CANADIENS (11-9-2) @ CAPITALS (12-9-1)
After dismissing a strong Minnesota Wild squad by a score of 6-2 on Tuesday night, the Habs will look to get a road win against the Washington Capitals on Friday. It will be the first of back-to-back games that will see the Canadiens take on Pittsburgh at the Bell Centre on Saturday.
Michel Therrien’s troops had their biggest offensive outburst of the season against the Wild, with Max Pacioretty nearly doubling his point total to date with a hat trick. Michael Bournival, Daniel Briere and Alex Galchenyuk also tallied for Montreal. David Desharnais had two assists, while Brendan Gallagher and P.K. Subban added two helpers of their own. Carey Price had a relatively quiet night at the office, turning aside 25 of the 27 shots he faced to register the win.
Peter Budaj will get the start in goal for the Canadiens against the Caps, while injured winger Rene Bourque will be sidelined with a lower-body injury. Douglas Murray draws back into the Canadiens' lineup after being a healthy scratch for the last two games. To make room for Murray, Francis Bouillon will not dress against the Caps. The 38-year-old will miss his first tilt with the Canadiens since re-joining the team last season.
Washington is ranked second in the Metropolitan Division, but only holds a one-point edge on the Habs. Head coach Adam Oates can count on the offensive production of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, both of whom are producing at a point-per-game pace. Mikhail Grabovski, Marcus Johansson and Joel Ward have also been contributing to one of the top-ranked offenses in the league. On the blue line, the Caps are expected to have power play quarterback Mike Green back in the fold. Green, who leads the Caps in average ice time per game, has been out for the past week with a lower-body injury. Rearguard John Carlson and shutdown specialist Karl Alzner follow close behind in that category.
The Caps had a three-game winning streak snapped by the Penguins on Wednesday. The Pens controlled the play throughout the tilt, and coasted to a 4-0 victory courtesy of goals from Paul Martin, Beau Bennett, Sidney Crosby and James Neal. Washington’s Braden Holtby stopped 36 of 40 shots against, but still suffered his seventh loss of the season.
This will be the first of three regular season meetings between Montreal and Washington. The Habs will look to halt a two-game losing skid against the Caps on Friday night. The Canadiens did, however, win the last game they played in the U.S. capital, posting a 4-1 win on Jan. 24th, 2013.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST.
A challenge awaits
The Hamilton Bulldogs host the Syracuse Crunch at the Bell Centre