WASHINGTON, DC - Here are five things you need to know ahead of Friday night's matchup against the Capitals.
1. Claude Julien's contingent is coming off a dramatic 3-2 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this week at the Bell Centre. After falling behind by a goal with 1:53 remaining in regulation time, Tomas Tatar netted the equalizer just 41 seconds before the final buzzer to send the game to overtime. Then, Jonathan Drouin settled the score with the lone shootout marker on goaltender Elvis Merzļikins to secure the come-from-behind victory on home turf. Brendan Gallagher scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season, too. For his part, Carey Price was outstanding in between the pipes, turning aside 33 shots to up his record to 9-4-2 on the year. It was the Habs' second straight win, and their sixth triumph in the last eight games.
2. Before departing for Washington, DC on Thursday, Julien confirmed that Price would get the start in goal against the Capitals on Friday night at Capital One Arena. He also confirmed that he'd be featuring the defensive pairing of Shea Weber and Ben Chiarot up against the line of Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie in hopes of keeping them off the scoresheet. For his part, Victor Mete will be partnered with Jeff Petry on the back end. Up front, Jordan Weal draws back into the lineup after missing the last four games as a healthy scratch. Jesperi Kotkaniemi still hasn't received the green light to return to active duty, according to Julien. He continues to recover from a groin injury sustained in late October.
3. Speaking of Weber, the Canadiens' captain is currently riding a team-high four-game point streak. Weber boasts three goals and five points during that span, and kept things rolling by picking up the secondary helper on Gallagher's tally against Columbus. Through 18 games, the 34-year-old rearguard sits tied for the team lead in assists alongside Tomas Tatar with nine, and ranks second alongside Gallagher with 14 points. He has been held off the scoresheet just once in the last seven games. That was back on November 2 in Dallas.
4. What can you say about the Capitals? They've been nothing short of remarkable this season with a League-leading 14 wins, 32 points and 79 goals to date. According to the NHL's Public Relations Department, it marks the club's highest point total through the first 20 games of a season in franchise history. Head coach Todd Reirden's squad boasts seven wins in their last eight games, and hasn't lost in regulation time since October 14. Defenseman John Carlson leads Washington with 30 points (8g, 22a), while Ovechkin ranks second in that department with 23 points - including a team-leading 13 goals, five of which have come on the power play. In their most recent outing, the Capitals downed the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 2-1 in a shootout in the City of Brotherly Love. Oshie and fellow sniper Evgeny Kuznetsov scored in the shootout, while goaltender Braden Holtby made 30 saves. Rookie Ilya Samsonov will get the start in goal against the Canadiens.
5. Puck drop on Friday night is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET. You can watch the game on TSN2 and RDS, and listen to all the action on TSN Radio 690 and 98,5 fm. Following the contest, the Canadiens will return to Montreal where they'll battle the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.