CANADIENS (14-9-2) vs. Capitals (12-11-2)
Facing off for the second time in seven days, the Habs and the Caps have had vastly different weeks. Montreal is flying high after winning four in a row, while Washington has lost their previous four games.
Last Friday’s tilt at the Verizon Center, won by the Habs 3-2, seemed to have been an inflection point for Michel Therrien’s troops. With five games in the next seven days, however, they are far from being out of the woods.
In their previous game, The Canadiens went up 2-0 early and hung out to take out the struggling Buffalo Sabres 3-1 Wednesday night. Matt Moulson was the only scorer for the home team, which gave a decent effort under new coach Ted Nolan but still came away empty-handed. Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher both snapped goal-less skids with one marker each, while David Desharnais scored the game-winner. Carey Price made 24 saves for the win.
The Caps are coming off a wild and woolly 6-4 defeat at the hands of the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. Washington was up 3-1 after 20 minutes of play thanks to goals from Eric Fehr, Marcus Johansson and Brooks Laich, but the Sens roared back with three unanswered goals to take the lead. John Carlson scored on the powerplay late in the game to tie the game at four, but Zach Smith lit the lamp just over a minute later to put the game out of reach of Adam Oates’ team.
Rene Bourque is cleared for a return to action after missing the last four games with a lower-body injury, but will not play for the Habs on Friday if the coaching staff opts to stay with the same forward lines as in the four previous games.
Peter Budaj will make his sixth start of the year, and his second in a week against the Caps. He is 1-2-1 all-time against Washington, including a win last Friday.
On defense, Francis Bouillon draws in for Douglas Murray.
The Washington offence is led by the ever-dangerous Alex Ovechkin, who scored twice against the Habs last Friday and is on pace to score over 60 goals this season. He has 20 goals and 8 assists in 23 games played. Meanwhile, Brendan Gallagher leads a well-balanced Habs offense with nine goals.
There are no significant injury updates for the Capitals.
Friday’s game will be the second of three season meetings between the two teams. Washington is winless against Montreal at the Verizon Center since March of 2012, but has won eight of the ten previous tilts against the Habs.
Due to the American Thanksgiving festivities, puck drop is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. EST.
On the road: Washington
Turn of fortune
Number Cruncher: Andrei Markov’s remarkable precision