NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, December 28th
(All times eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (20-14-2) at Washington Capitals (21-12-5), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Washington Capitals will try to stay on the right track
when they host the struggling Montreal Canadiens in a playoff rematch
tonight at the Verizon Center.
The Capitals lost eight in a row from Dec. 2-18, but Bruce Boudreau's club has
regrouped to post a 3-0-1 mark over its last four outings. Washington, which
has won the last three Southeast Division titles, has 47 points on the year
and is currently tied with Tampa Bay for first place in the division. The
Lightning are also in action tonight at home against Boston.
Meanwhile, the Canadiens have lost three of four and six of their last eight
games. Montreal is currently tied with Boston for the Northeast Division lead
with 42 points.
Montreal and the Capitals split four regular-season meetings last year before
the Habs eliminated top-seeded Washington from the Eastern Conference
quarterfinals in seven games last spring. The Canadiens trailed the series
three games to one before winning the final three games of the best-of-seven
set, including a 2-1 win in the decisive Game 7 at Verizon Center.
The Caps have still dominated the recent regular-season series against
Montreal, taking six of nine overall and four of the last five encounters in
Washington lost a shootout decision to visiting Pittsburgh on Thursday before
emerging from the Christmas break with Sunday's close win at Carolina. Alex
Ovechkin scored for the first time in nine games and the Capitals earned the
3-2 regulation victory at RBC Center.
Ovechkin added an assist to give him 41 points (13 goals, 28 assists) this
season. The Russian superstar has 11 goals and 24 points in 20 career games
against the Canadiens.
Mathieu Perreault and David Steckel also scored in Sunday's win and Semyon
Varlamov made 33 saves to improve to 5-4-1 on the season.
"They had some chances at the end, but we hung with it and we had some good
blocks tonight," Steckel said.
Washington has lost six of its last seven home games, but still has a solid
13-4-4 record as the host this season. After tonight, the Caps will be off
until visiting Pittsburgh's Heinz Field on Saturday for the Winter Classic
against the rival Penguins.
Caps defenseman Tom Poti missed the last game with a head injury and is
questionable for tonight.
The Canadiens also played on Sunday night and were dealt a 4-1 loss by the
host New York Islanders. Dwayne Roloson stopped 38-of-39 shots to lead the
Islanders to victory at Nassau Coliseum.
Tomas Plekanec notched the lone goal while Carey Price surrendered four goals
on 25 shots for the Canadiens.
The Canadiens are 1-3-0 so far on their season-high, seven-game road trip.
Montreal, which will complete the trek with tests against Tampa Bay and
Florida, is just 8-9-0 on the road this season.
Montreal forward Travis Moen missed Sunday's game with flu-like symptoms and
is questionable for tonight's tilt.
12/28 11:09:09 ET