CAPITALS (42-25-10) @ CANADIENS (47-22-8)
The Habs will be aiming to retake the East's top spot when the Washington Capitals visit the Bell Centre on Thursday.
Michel Therrien’s troops currently sit one point back of the first-place New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference standings, and one point ahead of the third-place Lightning, with a game in hand.
The Capitals for their part can move into second place in the Metropolitan Division with a win in Montreal and an Islanders loss in Columbus.
Washington will face a tough task in doing so however, having found the back of the net just once in two games against the Canadiens so far this season. Dustin Tokarski led the team to a 2-1 shootout win in October while Carey Price made 36 saves, including eight on Alexander Ovechkin, to earn a second consecutive shutout in January.
Ovechkin, who scored his 50th goal of the season for a sixth time on Tuesday in a 4-2 win against Carolina, has already been kept off the scoresheet twice by the Habs in 2014-15. Montreal is one of only three teams to hold the Capitals captain scoreless this season.
Following this week’s practices, Tomas Plekanec should be centering a line with Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher, while David Desharnais should be flanked by Alex Galchenyuk and P.-A. Parenteau up front. Devante Smith-Pelly meanwhile, will replace Brian Flynn in the lineup.
On the back end, Tom Gilbert will make his return to active duty in place of Greg Pateryn on the blue line.
Carey Price will be back in goal for the Habs, with another opportunity to equal the team record for most single-season wins (42) held by Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden.
On the opposite end of the ice will be Braden Holtby, looking for his 39th win this season.