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Canadiens at Capitals preview

Washington forward Walker to become first Australian player in NHL history; Montreal defenseman Alzner will face former team

by Brian McNally / NHL.com Correspondent

CANADIENS (1-0-0) at CAPITALS (1-0-0)

7 p.m. ET; NBCSWA, TVA Sports, CITY, NHL.TV

 

The Game

Washington Capitals forward Nathan Walker will become the first Australian player in NHL history when the Capitals host the Montreal Canadiens at Capital One Arena on Saturday.

Walker's parents, Wayne and Ceri, and his brother, Ryan, among other friends and family, made the 21-hour flight from Sydney this week before arriving in Washington on Wednesday and will be in attendance.

The Canadiens continue a season-opening three-game road trip after rallying for a 3-2 shootout win at the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. Center Jonathan Drouin scored in the shootout and added an assist.

 

Players to watch

Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner returns to Washington for the first time in an opposing uniform. Alzner, 29, signed a five-year, $23.125 million contract (average annual value $4.625 million) with Montreal on July 1 after spending eight seasons with the Capitals.

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby has dominated Montreal throughout his NHL career. In 14 career games against the Canadiens, Holtby is 10-1-2 with a 1.62 goals-against average and .941 save percentage, his best marks against any NHL opponent.

 

They said it

"If you look at the schedule, it's tough enough as it is. It's three [games] in four [nights] and it's in three different cities. So you do what you think is best for your team. Everybody is in great shape, but I think the rest is important." -- Canadiens coach Claude Julien on allowing his players to skip the morning skate, with Montreal playing at the New York Rangers on Sunday

"It'll be different to see him [in another uniform]. Luckily I won't see him too often, I don't think. We used to see each other quite a bit. But not anymore." -- Holtby joking about Alzner, who plays mostly in the defensive zone

 

Canadiens projected lineup

Max Pacioretty -- Jonathan Drouin -- Brendan Gallagher

Charles Hudon -- Tomas Plekanec -- Artturi Lehkonen

Alex Galchenyuk -- Phillip Danault -- Andrew Shaw

Paul Byron -- Jacob De La Rose -- Ales Hemsky

Victor Mete -- Shea Weber

Karl Alzner -- Jeff Petry

Jordie Benn -- Mark Streit

Carey Price

Al Montoya

Scratched: Brandon Davidson, Torrey Mitchell, Joe Morrow.

Injured: David Schlemko (hand)

 

Capitals projected lineup

Andre Burakovsky -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Alex Ovechkin -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Jakub Vrana

Brett Connolly -- Lars Eller -- Alex Chiasson

Nathan Walker -- Jay Beagle -- Devante Smith-Pelly

Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik -- John Carlson

Aaron Ness -- Taylor Chorney

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Tyler Graovac, Christian Djoos

Injured: None

Suspended: Tom Wilson

 

Status report

Wilson will serve the second of his four-game suspension for boarding St. Louis Blues forward Samuel Blais in a preseason game on Oct. 1. … Walker is the only lineup change for the Capitals; he'll take the place of Graovac. … The Canadiens will use the same lineup that dressed Thursday.

 

Stat pack

The Capitals are 14-2-1 with one tie in home openers at Capital One Arena, which opened as MCI Center in 1997. … Ovechkin has 45 points (23 goals, 21 assists) in 42 NHL games against the Canadiens. … Ovechkin is tied with Mike Modano (561 goals) for 24th place on the NHL's all-time list. Joe Nieuwendyk and Mats Sundin (564 goals) are tied for 22nd place.

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