NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, January 24th
(All times Eastern)
Boston Bruins (31-13-2) at Washington Capitals (25-19-3), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Alex Ovechkin will be forced to watch tonight's action at
the Verizon Center from the press box, as his Washington Capitals try to halt
a two-game skid against the visiting Boston Bruins.
Ovechkin will miss the next three games after being suspended by the NHL for a
hit Sunday against Pittsburgh's Zbynek Michalek. Washington's captain left his
feet to deliver a high, hard check to the head of Pittsburgh's defenseman
early in the second period of a 4-3 Penguins' overtime victory.
The 26-year-old Russian sniper was not penalized for his hit on Michalek, but
Ovechkin will forfeit over $154,000 in salary and he won't be eligible to
return until Feb. 4 in Montreal. The suspension, however, will not prevent
Ovechkin from participating in this weekend's All-Star festivities in Ottawa.
The Moscow native was named to his fifth All-Star team thanks to his 20 goals
and 39 points in 47 games this season.
The Capitals, meanwhile, have lost two straight and three of their last four
contests. As a result, Washington has fallen a point behind Florida for first
place in the Southeast Division and is in danger of dropping three in a row
for the first time since an 0-4 slide from Nov. 25-Dec. 1. The Caps are also
tied with Toronto for the eighth seed in the East.
Tonight's tilt marks the first of four meetings between the Caps and Bruins
this year, but Washington has not fared well in recent encounters against
Boston. The Bruins have won four of the last five matchups overall and Boston
had won two straight in D.C. before dropping its last test in the nation's
capital on Nov. 5, 2010.
The Capitals were able to gain a point in their last game on Sunday, but
Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin scored 1:31 into overtime to lift the host Penguins
to the 4-3 decision. Washington netminder Michal Neuvirth allowed four goals
on 27 shots in Sunday's defeat, while Ovechkin had a goal and two assists for
The Capitals have an excellent 17-6-1 as the host this year and they had won
seven straight at home until getting shut out last Tuesday by the New York
Boston is coming off a pair of exciting games this weekend and the Bruins
earned three points in those contests. Claude Julien's club fell to the
visiting New York Rangers on Saturday after Marian Gaborik notched the OT
winner with 3.6 seconds left, but the Bruins rebounded with Sunday's 6-5
shootout victory in Philadelphia.
Tyler Seguin scored the winner in the shootout to lift Boston to the close win
in Philly. Seguin's decisive score came at the end of round two, when he
forced Ilya Bryzgalov to the ice and slid a shot inside the right post. Tim
Thomas then made a blocker save on Wayne Simmonds to end the contest.
"Obviously, guys who go in shootouts have different choices on what they are
going to do or if they pick their move before. On [Ilya Bryzgalov], I did want
to go on glove side," Seguin said of his shot choice. "I saw [David Krejci] go
down and shoot there and I thought it was open. So, I just tried to make a
couple more moves."
Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Seguin each posted a goal and
an assist for the Bruins. Thomas, winner of two of the last three Vezina
Trophies, won despite allowing an atypical five goals on 38 shots.
Boston fell two points behind the Rangers for the Eastern Conference lead
after Saturday's loss, but the B's forged a virtual tie for the No. 1 seed
thanks to Sunday's win. The Rangers and Bruins both enter tonight with 64
points through 46 games.
The Bruins played Sunday without defenseman Andrew Ference, who will serve the
second test of a three-game suspension tonight. Boston forward Nathan Horton
is also questionable after sustaining a head injury on a late hit from
Philadelphia's Tom Sestito.
Boston is 15-6-0 as the visiting team this season and has won three of its
last four away from Beantown.
Both the Bruins and Caps are playing their final games before the All-Star
break. Boston's next test is set for Tuesday, when it hosts Ottawa to open a
three-game homestand. Washington will also emerge from the break next Tuesday,
as it kicks off a three-game road trip with a stop in Tampa.
01/24 11:06:32 ET