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Capitals at Devils preview

New Jersey aims to stay undefeated; Ovechkin looks to continue hot start for Washington

by Mike G. Morreale / Staff Writer

CAPITALS (2-1-1) at DEVILS (3-0-0)



The Game

The New Jersey Devils will look to win their fourth straight game and equal their best start in 22 seasons when they play the Washington Capitals at Prudential Center on Friday.

The Devils, who have scored 16 goals, the second-highest total in franchise history after the first three games, last won their opening four games in 1995-96. They finished that season 37-33-12 and did not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin leads the NHL with eight goals; he is the fifth player since 1967-68, and first since Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks in 2012-13, to score that many goals in the first four games of a season. Center Evgeny Kuznetsov has eight points, all assists, and has assisted on seven of Ovechkin's eight goals.

Players to watch

Capitals first-line center Nicklas Backstrom has six points (one goal, five assists) and has won 50 percent of his face-offs (36-of-72).

Forward Marcus Johansson, who spent seven seasons with the Capitals before being traded to the Devils for two draft picks on July 2, has four points (two goals, two assists) in three games. He had 290 points (102 goals, 188 assists) in 501 NHL games with the Capitals.


They said it

"The Devils have changed some things [systematically] but it starts with personnel. They've got a little more speed and skill, they're young and enthusiastic, and they're getting great goaltending. Their special teams have been strong too, so they have a lot of things working for them right now." -- Capitals coach Barry Trotz

"It's going to be a lot different [against the Capitals] in the regular season than in the preseason. It's going to be a lot more adrenaline and emotion and excitement, but I'm looking forward to it and it should be a lot of fun. The Capitals are the only team in the League I haven't played against, so I'm looking forward to it." -- Devils forward Marcus Johansson


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Jakub Vrana

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

Brett Connolly -- Lars Eller -- Tom Wilson

Alex Chiasson -- Jay Beagle -- Devante Smith-Pelly

Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik -- John Carlson

Christian Djoos -- Aaron Ness

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Nathan Walker, Taylor Chorney, Tyler Graovac

Injured: None


Devils projected lineup

Taylor Hall -- Pavel Zacha -- Kyle Palmieri

Marcus Johansson -- Nico Hischier -- Jesper Bratt

Brian Gibbons -- Adam Henrique -- Jimmy Hayes

Miles Wood -- Blake Coleman -- Stefan Noesen

Andy Greene -- Steven Santini

John Moore -- Damon Severson

Will Butcher -- Dalton Prout

Cory Schneider

Keith Kinkaid

Scratched: Mirco Mueller, Ben Lovejoy

Injured: Travis Zajac (pectoral muscle), Drew Stafford (lower body)


Status report

Wilson will make his season debut on the third line after serving a four-game suspension for boarding St. Louis Blues forward Sammy Blais in a preseason game on Oct. 1. His return means Chiasson will move to the fourth line with Beagle and Smith-Pelly. ... Prout will make his season debut and begin the game with Butcher. Mueller and Lovejoy will be healthy scratches. ... Stafford will miss his third straight game but could return to the lineup at the New York Rangers on Saturday, according to coach John Hynes.


Stat pack

Djoos became the first defenseman in Capitals history to score two points (one goal, one assist) in his NHL debut, a 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday. ... Washington has allowed four power-play goals in its last seven times shorthanded after beginning the season with 13 straight kills. ... Bratt leads the Devils with six points (three goals, three assists) and a plus-5 rating during a three-game point streak to begin the season, and is tied for the NHL lead with two shorthanded points (one goal, one assist). ... The Devils have scored a shorthanded goal in each of their first three games.

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