Game Preview: CANADIENS (20-13-3) @ CAPITALS (25-6-2)
TV: CBC, NHLN-US, TVA Sports, City – 7:00 p.m.
After a short break for the holidays, the Canadiens are back in action Saturday night against the Capitals in Washington.
The match presents a tough challenge for Michel Therrien’s troops, who have suffered losses in nine of their last 10 games. The Capitals on the other hand have replaced the Habs atop the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 8-1-1 in their last ten contests.
In their most recent outing, the Canadiens were defeated by the Minnesota Wild by the score of 2-1 in Minnesota on Tuesday night. Rookie forward Daniel Carr scored the lone marker for the Habs in the loss. Goaltender Mike Condon did his best to keep the Habs in the game, ending the evening with a save percentage of .909, having stopped 20 of the 22 pucks fired by on net the Wild.
In contrast, the Capitals won their final match before the Christmas break, defeating the Carolina Hurricanes by the score of 2-1. Backup netminder Philipp Grubauer made 31 saves on 32 shots to preserve the victory, while Michael Latta and Jason Chimera found the back of the net for the Capitals.
Michel Therrien and the Canadiens will have to play close attention to the Capitals’ offensive machine, featuring the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, John Carlson, Justin Williams and TJ Oshie. Washington’s offensive catalysts have combined to score 105 goals since the start of the season, which has them tied for second place in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens.
The ever-busy Canadiens infirmary may have another name added to the list as defenseman Tom Gilbert is currently nursing a lower-body injury suffered during the game against the Wild and is expected to miss the next four games of the road trip. In addition, Jeff Petry was back at practice with teammates and is expected to make his return to the lineup, while Brendan Gallagher also hit the ice in Brossard sporting a non-contact jersey.
The Canadiens also confirmed that Jarred Tinordi will be in the lineup Saturday night against the Capitals, meaning Sven Andrighetto and Greg Pateryn will sit out tonight's contest.
Mike Condon - who made 19 saves in a 3-2 loss against the Capitals earlier this season - was confirmed as Saturday night's starter. The Canadiens meanwhile have to deal with solving Braden Holtby who has been steady for the Capitals all season with a record of 21-4-2 including a goals against average of 1.96 and a save percentage of .931.
Puck drop is set for 7:00 at the Verizon Center in Washington.