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Canadiens at Capitals preview

Washington can clinch Metropolitan Division; Montreal hopes to move up in wild-card race

by Harvey Valentine / Correspondent

CANADIENS (43-29-8) at CAPITALS (47-25-8)



The Game

The Washington Capitals can clinch the Metropolitan Division for the fourth consecutive season when they play the Montreal Canadiens at Capital One Arena on Thursday.

Washington leads the second-place New York Islanders by three points with each team having two games left. The Capitals will clinch if they defeat Montreal or if they get one point and the Islanders lose to the Florida Panthers in any fashion, or if the Islanders lose in regulation.

The Canadiens are 6-1-1 in their past eight games and tied in points with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. They also are one point behind the Carolina Hurricanes, who hold the first wild card and play the New Jersey Devils.


Players to watch

Canadiens goalie Carey Price is 7-3-1 with a 1.92 goals-against average, .935 save percentage and one shutout in his past 11 starts.

Capitals forward T.J. Oshie has nine points (four goals, five assists) in his past six games.


They said it

"They go out there, they play hard. We're not playing tight. We've lost some tough games, but for the most part I think we've been a really good hockey club and we need two more of those kind of games here before the end of the season." -- Canadiens coach Claude Julien

"We want to play good hockey against a team that's going to be desperate. I think it's a great opportunity to really prepare for playoff hockey." -- Capitals goalie Braden Holtby


Canadiens projected lineup

Tomas Tatar -- Phillip Danault -- Brendan Gallagher

Artturi Lehkonen -- Max Domi -- Andrew Shaw

Jonathan Drouin -- Jordan Weal -- Joel Armia

Jesperi Kotkaniemi -- Nate Thompson -- Paul Byron

Victor Mete -- Shea Weber

Brett Kulak -- Jeff Petry

Jordie Benn -- Christian Folin

Carey Price

Antti Niemi

Scratched: Nicolas Deslauriers, Charles Hudon, Matthew Peca, Ryan Poehling, Dale Weise, Mike Reilly, Charlie Lindgren

Injured: None


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- T.J. Oshie

Carl Hagelin -- Lars Eller -- Brett Connolly

Andre Burakovsky -- Nic Dowd -- Travis Boyd

John Carlson -- Nick Jensen

Matt Niskanen -- Dmitry Orlov

Brooks Orpik -- Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby

Pheonix Copley

Scratched: Dmitrij Jaskin, Jonas Siegenthaler, Chandler Stephenson

Injured: Michal Kempny (lower body)


Status report

Price will make his 13th straight start. … The Canadiens will use the same lineup from a 4-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. … Vrana and Hagelin will switch lines. ... Jensen moves to the top defensive pair with Carlson.


Stat pack

Domi has nine points (four goals, five assists) in his past eight games. … Ovechkin is one power-play goal from passing Luc Robitaille (247) for fourth place on the NHL all-time list.

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