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Ribeiro, Erat return to face Capitals with Coyotes

by Corey Masisak

COYOTES (29-23-11) at CAPITALS (29-25-10)


Last 10: Coyotes 4-5-1; Capitals 5-3-2

Season series: The Phoenix Coyotes won the first game 4-3 in a shootout Nov. 9 and have won six of the past nine meetings against the Washington Capitals.

Big story: This will be the first time Phoenix forwards Mike Ribeiro and Martin Erat play at Verizon Center since calling Washington home.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Erat left Washington when he was traded Tuesday, but he wasn't gone for long. He'll play his second game for Phoenix at Verizon Center. He had two goals and 27 points in 62 games with the Capitals after arriving before the deadline last season, and requested a trade in November before general manager George McPhee moved him this week.

Ribeiro's brief time in Washington went much better. Acquired in a trade before the 2012-13 season, he had 13 goals and 49 points in 48 games for the Capitals before signing a four-year, $22 million contract with the Coyotes. He's had an inconsistent first season for Phoenix, but he does have 14 goals and a team-leading 43 points in 63 games.

Capitals: Washington has issues to worry about other than two former players returning to town. The Capitals have lost three straight games, and since the start of the third period Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers have been outscored 12-4 and outshot 85-44.

In the past two games, the Capitals set a season-low with eight shots on goal in two periods, then matched it; they have been outshot 50-16 in the first two periods of those games.

McPhee surprisingly criticized his goaltending in the media, then traded for Jaroslav Halak from the Buffalo Sabres before the deadline Wednesday. He is expected to make his first start for the Capitals.

Defenseman Dmitry Orlov is eligible to return from a two-game suspension he received for boarding Flyers forward Brayden Schenn.

Who's hot: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has four goals and seven points in five games since returning from the 2014 Sochi Olympics. … Coyotes captain Shane Doan has three goals and five points in his past four games.

Injury report: Capitals center Mikhail Grabovski (lower body), the man who replaced Ribeiro, is out. Forward Brooks Laich (groin) and defenseman John Erskine (upper body) skated Friday and could play Saturday. … Coyotes center Martin Hanzal (lower body) and defenseman David Schlemko (lower body) did not make the trip.

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