NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, November 20th (All times eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (10-11-0) at Washington Capitals (13-4-4), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Washington Capitals will aim for a sixth win in seven games when they welcome the Montreal Canadiens for this evening's encounter at Verizon Center.
The Capitals had a four-game winning streak halted Saturday in New Jersey, but then used the return of Alex Ovechkin to help spur them to a victory Tuesday evening in Manhattan against the New York Rangers.
Matt Bradley pumped in the go-ahead goal with 4:51 remaining in the third period, as Washington posted a 4-2 win over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
It was the first game back for Ovechkin since he suffered an upper-body strain on November 1 against Columbus. The Russian sniper missed six games due to the injury, but made an immediate impact Tuesday with a power-play goal for Washington.
"It's always nice when you come back (from an injury) and score in the first period and on your first shot," Ovechkin said.
Brooks Laich and Brian Pothier also lit the lamp for the Southeast Division- leading Capitals, who have recorded at least a point in 14 of their last 16 games (11-2-3). Mike Green collected two assists and Semyon Varlamov made 18 saves in a winning effort.
Varlamov is expected to get the start in net again tonight, as Jose Theodore is unavailable due to personal reasons. Theodore left the team briefly but has since returned to practice. Still it is expected that Michal Neuvirth, who was called up from Hershey prior to Tuesday's game, will serve as the backup to Varlamov again tonight.
Caps forward Alexander Semin also missed Tuesday's game with a wrist injury and could be out again tonight. Semin has nine goals and eight assists in 18 games this season.
John Carlson will make his NHL debut tonight for the Capitals after the club recalled him from Hershey of the American Hockey League on Thursday. The 19- year-old Carlson was the 27th overall selection of the 2008 draft.
Washington is 7-1-3 as the host this year and has won three straight in D.C. Next up for the Caps is a two-game road trip with stops in Toronto and Ottawa.
The Canadiens have won two of their last three games and are coming off a close win Tuesday against visiting Carolina. Maxim Lapierre scored the only goal in six shootout rounds while Carey Price made an astonishing save to preserve the win, as Montreal edged the Hurricanes, 3-2, at Bell Centre.
Andrei Kostitsyn and Max Pacioretty scored in regulation for Montreal. Price finished with 30 saves and Tomas Plekanec assisted on both goals in the winning effort.
On the injury front, Montreal learned that it will be without the services of forward Brian Gionta for an indefinite period of time. Gionta missed the last two games and it has been revealed that he has a broken bone in his left foot.
The veteran initially suffered the injury on November 3 against Atlanta, but played in the next four games. It is expected that Gionta, who has eight goals and 13 points this year, will miss the next few weeks with the injury, but no timetable has been set for his return.
Montreal is just 4-6-0 on the road this season and is away from the Bell Centre for just one game. The Habs will return home to play their next two tests against Detroit and Columbus.
The Capitals took three of four from Montreal in 2008-09 and have won five of the last seven encounters between the clubs. The Canadiens have dropped three straight and four of their last five games in D.C.
11/20 10:46:14 ET