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game preview

Capitals at Devils preview

Ovechkin, Backstrom to play 900th game as teammates for Washington; New Jersey eyes third straight win

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Senior Director of Editorial

CAPITALS (24-6-5) at DEVILS (11-17-5)



The Game

The New Jersey Devils will try for their first three-game winning streak of the season when they host the Washington Capitals at Prudential Center on Friday.

The Devils have won their past two games playing without forward Taylor Hall, who was traded to the Arizona Coyotes on Monday. New Jersey edged Arizona 2-1 on Saturday, when the forward was a healthy scratch in anticipation of a trade, then defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 on Wednesday, their first game after the trade. The Devils lost 3-1 at the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 13 in the first game with Hall as a healthy scratch.

Capitals forwards Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom will become the 21st set of NHL teammates to play at least 900 regular-season games together and the sixth among active players. Alex Delvecchio and Gordie Howe hold the NHL record with 1,353 games as teammates with the Detroit Red Wings from 1951-71. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook lead active players with 1,069 games as teammates with the Chicago Blackhawks since 2005.


Players to watch

Capitals forward Jakub Vrana has three goals and three assists in seven games in December and has 29 points (15 goals, 14 assists) in 35 games this season.

Devils forward Kyle Palmieri has three goals in his past five games and has scored once in each of the past two. He leads New Jersey with 13 goals and 21 points in 33 games.


They said it

"There's some little things that we pride ourselves on that have slipped away a little bit. We haven't been as patient as we could or should be and I think that has caused us some unnecessary goals or shifts that end up the way they shouldn't be."  -- Capitals defenseman John Carlson on the state of Washington's game after a 3-0 loss at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday

"I think a lot of it is we are still a young team and you go through experiences of losing, and eventually you figure out what wins game and how to win games. I think when you look at our last two third periods they were great, they were unbelievable. … When you look at that, we have to keep growing and growing as a team and that is a part of our game that needs to keep improving."  -- Devils forward Travis Zajac on New Jersey's two-game winning streak


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- Tom Wilson

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

Carl Hagelin -- Lars Eller -- Richard Panik

Brendan Leipsic - Travis Boyd -- Garnet Hathaway

Michal Kempny -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Nick Jensen

Jonas Siegenthaler -- Radko Gudas

Ilya Samsonov

Braden Holtby

Scratched: Nic Dowd

Injured : None


Devils projected lineup

Jesper Bratt -- Nico Hischier -- Kyle Palmieri

Blake Coleman -- Travis Zajac -- Nikita Gusev

Pavel Zacha -- Jack Hughes -- Wayne Simmonds

Jesper Boqvist -- Michael McLeod -- Miles Wood

Andy Greene -- P.K. Subban

Will Butcher -- Sami Vatanen

Mirco Mueller -- Damon Severson

Mackenzie Blackwood

Gilles Senn

Scratched: John Hayden, Kevin Rooney, Connor Carrick

Injured: Matt Tennyson (upper body), Louis Domingue (lower body)


Status report

Samsonov last played Dec. 14, earning a 5-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning. … New Jersey will dress the same lineup and employ the same line combinations it used in the wins against Arizona and Anaheim. 


Stat pack

Blackwood is 2-2-1 with a .942 save percentage and 1.78 goals-against average in seven games in December. … Washington is 12-0-2 when leading after the first period. ... Samsonov (8-2-1) is second in wins among rookies to Blackwood (10-9-4). ... Greene will play in his 900th NHL game. ... Zajac will play in his 956th NHL game, all with the Devils, tying Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Stevens for fourth in New Jersey history.

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