It's East meets West as some of the NHL's brightest stars square off at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
, Joe Thornton
, Evgeni Nabokov
and Dan Boyle
are in town as the San Jose Sharks
make an Eastern swing, taking on Alex Ovechkin
, Alex Semin, Mike Green
and the Washington Caps
This is the first of two meetings between San Jose and Washington this season. They play again in San Jose on Dec. 30. The Sharks won the only meeting between the clubs last season, 7-2 at San Jose, and have won their last six visits to the Nation's Capital.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in this game would be a shutout as this game features five of the top six point producers and four of the top seven scorers entering Wednesday's action.
The Caps have lost four straight (0-2-2) while the Sharks are coming off a 1-0 shootout loss at home to Phoenix and are starting a six-game road trip.
Tonight's game is the first in the Sharks' six-game, 13-night road trip. They also play the Islanders, Rangers, Lightning, Thrashers and Flyers before heading home for two games to close out October.
"The first game is pivotal -- we won't worry about the other five," Sharks coach Todd McLellan
said. "We're going to the East Coast and we don't know a lot about those teams. Obviously the Ovechkins, the Mike Richards
, the (Jeff) Carters jump out at you. We've got some homework to do."
Ovechkin hasn't scored a goal in the last three games and Niclas Backstrom and Semin went pointless in the last two -- so coach Bruce Boudreau
might be ready to tinker with his lines again. He changed up his top lines for Monday's game 3-2 shootout loss to New Jersey, moving Mike Knuble
up to play right wing with Backstrom and Ovechkin and shifting Semin to play with Brooks Laich
and Brendan Morrison
. In Tuesday's practice, Boudreau had Morrison between Ovechkin and Knuble and Backstrom between Laich and Semin.
"I'm just trying to get at least two lines that I know are going to be productive offensively and you experiment to find things," Boudreau said.