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Canadiens know they face challenge in Capitals

Pacioretty says Montreal must outwork NHL-leading Washington to win

by Katie Brown / Correspondent

CANADIENS (28-27-5) at CAPITALS (44-10-4)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; SN, RDS, CSN-DC+, NHL.TV

WASHINGTON -- The Montreal Canadiens are aware of the challenges that lie before them, in more ways than one. 

When they visit the Washington Capitals on Wednesday, they'll be missing seven players to injury and their relatively young defensive corps will have to contend with one of the top offenses in the NHL while attempting to accumulate any standings points they possibly can. 

"Starting from the goaltending out, you look at their lineup and they don't have many flaws," captain Max Pacioretty said. "You've got to outwork a team like that to beat them, so it's a big test for us tonight. If we're able to outwork them, then we'll give ourselves a chance, but it's not a team that we want to trade chances against and play pond hockey. We want to be sound defensively and make sure we try and outwork them if we can." 

Pacioretty pointed to a Dec. 3 game against the Capitals at Bell Centre, when the Canadiens outshot the Capitals 35-19 but lost 3-2. It was the beginning of a four-game losing streak and the Canadiens won only three games in a frustrating month that ended with a 3-11-0 record. 

"I remember that game, obviously feeling very frustrated after the game knowing that we played so well and their goaltender made so many saves, but it is a little bit of a reminder that we can stay with this team," Pacioretty said. 

The Canadiens are seven points out of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. After starting the season with nine consecutive wins, they have been decimated by injuries, most notably the loss of goaltender Carey Price, who has missed 37 games with a lower-body injury. 

"We know this position we're in," Pacioretty said. "We know the opportunity that we have. We've faced a ton of adversity this year whether it's stuff that we can control or we can't. We can't worry about that, it's one game at a time. If we focus on the results right now, we're going to really be unhappy with the results. We've got to focus on the process, worry about individually being the best you can and trying to work your hardest and hopefully come out with the right results." 

To replace defenseman Nathan Beaulieu, who is expected to miss at least one game with a lower-body injury, the Canadiens recalled Victor Bartley from Saint John's of the American Hockey League. Bartley was acquired Jan. 15 as part of a three-way trade involving the Nashville Predators and Arizona Coyotes. 

"I saw him play a little bit on tape at Saint John's," Therrien said. "He's a stay-at-home defenseman who will make a good first pass. We have a really young and inexperienced defensive squad tonight and I'm looking forward to see how our younger team is going to react to the best team in the NHL." 

Capitals forward Marcus Johansson, who has missed one game with illness, did not practice Tuesday and will be a game-time decision. 

"We'll see where he is," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said Tuesday. "He'll probably skate and then we'll make that decision." 

The Capitals did not hold a morning skate but goaltender Braden Holtby is expected to get the start. Mike Condon will start in goal for the Canadiens. 
Here are the projected lineups: 

Max Pacioretty - Lars Eller - Dale Weise   
Alex Galchenyuk - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher  
Tomas Fleischmann - Jacob De La Rose - Paul Byron   
Sven Andrighetto - Torrey Mitchell - Devante Smith-Pelly   

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban   
Alexei Emelin - Greg Pateryn   
Victor Bartley - Mark Barberio  

Mike Condon   
Ben Scrivens   

Injured: Carey Price (lower body), Jeff Petry (lower body), Daniel Carr (knee), David Desharnais (broken left foot), Brian Flynn (lower body), Tom Gilbert (lower body), Nathan Beaulieu (lower body) 
Scratched: Lucas Lessio  
Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams  
Andre Burakovsky - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie  
Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Tom Wilson  
Brooks Laich - Mike Richards - Michael Latta  

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner  
Nate Schmidt - John Carlson  
Brooks Orpik - Dmitry Orlov  

Braden Holtby 
Philipp Grubauer  

Injured: Jay Beagle (upper body) 
Scratched: Stanislav Galiev, Taylor Chorney  

Status update: Weise returns to the lineup after missing one game because of illness. 

Who's hot: Kuznetsov has eight points in five games. Ovechkin has six points in three games. … Markov has three points in his past three games. Subban leads the Canadiens in scoring with 46 points.

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