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Preview: Capitals at Sharks

Jannik Hansen to make San Jose debut; Washington could change top two lines

by Eric Gilmore / NHL.com Correspondent

CAPITALS (44-14-7) at SHARKS (39-19-7)

10:30 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, CSN-CA, NHL.TV

 

Capitals team scope

Alex Ovechkin hasn't scored an even-strength goal in 15 games, one shy of his career high, and Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz may change his top two lines as a result. "See if he can bust out of it tonight," Trotz said after the morning skate. "If not, then maybe do it during the middle of the game. I've been thinking about that for a while." Ovechkin, who will begin the game on the top line at left wing with center Nicklas Backstrom and right wing T.J. Oshie, has three power-play goals during the 15-game stretch. Twelve of his 27 goals this season have come on the power play. Washington has an NHL-high 95 points and leads the Metropolitan Division, five points ahead the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins. The San Jose Sharks defeated Washington 3-0 at Verizon Center on Nov. 8. "These are some of those matchups in season that you really gear up for," said defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who was traded from the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 27. "I've been able to play a lot of meaningful games against these guys in recent years and we know how well they play at home. We have to realize that they start very well here and we have to be ready for that. It's going to be a physical game." Goaltender Braden Holtby, who leads the NHL in goals-against average (1.93) and shutouts (eight), will make his fifth straight start.

 

Sharks team scope

Jannik Hansen will make his Sharks debut and skate on the top line at left wing with center Joe Thornton and right wing Joe Pavelski. San Jose aquired Hansen from the Vancouver Canucks in a trade on Feb. 28, but he missed the past three games because of visa issues. He has played 565 regular-season NHL games, all with Vancouver, over 10 seasons. "Obviously excited," Hansen said. "A little nervous, probably, but it's nice to be here. It's a lot of preparation. It's nice to finally be at the end of that road and start over. Skating with Thornton and Pavelski should help ease his transition to a new team. They're two tremendously good players. So obviously trying to get a read off them, how I can help them out in any way." Martin Jones had a 24-save shutout against the Capitals in November and will make his 54th start of the season. He's 3-0-0 with two shutouts, a 0.67 GAA and .975 save percentage in his career against Washington. The Sharks are 21-1-2 in their past 24 games against Washington.

 

Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Justin Williams

Brett Connolly -- Lars Eller -- Jakub Vrana

Daniel Winnik -- Jay Beagle -- Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Nate Schmidt, Taylor Chorney

Injured: Andre Burakovsky (hand)

 

Sharks projected lineup

Jannik Hansen -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau -- Logan Couture -- Mikkel Boedker

Joonas Donskoi -- Tomas Hertl -- Melker Karlsson

Micheal Haley -- Chris Tierney -- Joel Ward

Paul Martin -- Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon -- Dylan DeMelo

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Marcus Sorensen

Injured: David Schlemko

 

Status report

Burakovsky did not travel with the Capitals and will miss all three games on the road trip (at the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, at the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday). ... Sorensen will be scratched to make room for Hansen. Karlsson moved from the fourth to the third line, trading places with Ward.

 

Who's hot

Backstrom has 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in his past 16 games. Holtby is 13-1-1 with two shutouts in his past 15 starts. ... Burns has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his past nine games. Pavelski has five points (three goals, two assists) in his past five games.

 

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