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Streaking Canadiens meet slumping Capitals

by Mike Battaglino

CANADIENS (14-9-2) at CAPITALS (12-11-2)


Last 10: Montreal 6-2-2; Washington 4-4-2

Season series: The Montreal Canadiens return to Verizon Center after defeating the Washington Capitals 3-2 there one week ago. The Canadiens led 3-0 after the first 13:40.

Big story: The Canadiens come in on a four-game winning streak after defeating the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 on Wednesday. The Capitals are headed the other way, losers of four straight after a 6-4 setback against the Ottawa Senators.

Team Scope:

Canadiens: Montreal has won six of eight since a four-game losing streak to start November. However, the Canadiens have only been able to climb from fifth place to fourth in the Atlantic Division.

The Canadiens have the NHL's best road power play (2-for-4 Wednesday) and third-best penalty kill (2-for-2).

"We have the same mentality no matter what building we're playing in," forward Brendan Gallagher said. "We're trying to score a goal. If you can get big power-play goals on the road, it is huge. It helps you create momentum especially in the other teams' buildings. But I can't really explain the reason for it."

Improved play from forward David Desharnais (five points) has helped the offense score 15 goals during the winning streak after needing nine prior games to score 16.

"In the last two weeks, he's played well," coach Michel Therrien said, according to The Associated Press. "He's competing well. He's working hard at both sides of the ice."

Capitals: Washington has fallen from first place in the Metropolitan Division to third, one point ahead of fourth, since Nov. 17. The Capitals led 3-1 on Wednesday.

"If guys don't know that we let one get away, shame on them. Shame on them," coach Adam Oates told Monumental Network. "I'm going to tell them. But still, if they walk away and they're not upset, then there's nothing any coach can do to change that."

The Capitals have allowed a power-play goal in five of the past six games, including three to the Senators.

"A couple power-play goals [against] changes things and deflates everyone," defenseman John Carlson said.

Who's hot: Canadiens goalie Carey Price has a .957 save percentage in his past five games and hasn't allowed more than two goals since Nov. 7. Defenseman Andrei Markov has six points in his past three games. … Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has eight points in his past seven games.

Injury report: Canadiens defenseman Davis Drewiske (shoulder) is on injured reserve. Forward Rene Bourque (lower body) did not play Wednesday. ... Capitals forward Brooks Laich (lower body) will miss Friday's game. Jack Hillen (right tibia surgery) and John Erskine (upper body) are on injured reserve.

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