The Washington Capitals appear to be finding their rhythm and have now won four straight games following a rough start to the year. However, they're still digging themselves out of that early hole, and every point is important as they look to return to playoff territory. They'll have the chance to collect two more on Tuesday against the struggling Chicago Blackhawks.
Here's everything to know ahead of puck drop.
Capitals vs. Blackhawks: Tale Of The Tape
Washington (14-12-3) recently got over .500 and has been playing solid hockey. The offense appears to be clicking and making things happen, the power play has converted in six straight games and the penalty kill now ranks eighth in the NHL (81.4 percent). Also, players are continuing to step up in wake of injuries, which have now migrated to the blue line and goal crease.
With Martin Fehervary, Alex Alexeyev, Erik Gustafsson and Darcy Kuemper all going down, the Capitals have gotten outstanding play from Charlie Lindgren, who earned NHL first-star honors for his performance in wake of Kuemper's injury. He is 4-0 with a .949 save percentage and 1.50 GAA over this latest stretch.
On the other side of the coin, the Blackhawks have been struggling. Their 2.38 goals per game are the second-least in the league, and they give up the ninth-most goals per game (3.54) as well. Their penalty kill also ranks 24th (74.2). However, it won't be an easy matchup, as Chicago still has an impressive offensive arsenal and a lot of talent, and their power play also ranks 12th (23.5).
Capitals vs. Blackhawks: Projected Lines
After a crazy morning skate in Winnipeg, the Capitals saw a bit of that carry over into Chicago. Lars Eller was warming up but left the ice and did not return. He is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
On the bright side, Erik Gustafsson was back on the ice and is in. With Eller out, the lines changed slightly, with Aliaksei Protas shifting to center and Nicolas Aube-Kubel on the fourth line left wing with Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway.
Here are what the lines look like.
Alex Ovechkin-Dylan Strome-Conor Sheary
Sonny Milano-Evgeny Kuznetsov-T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson-Aliaksei Protas-Anthony Mantha
Nicolas Aube/Kubel-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway
Erik Gustafsson-John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen
Trevor van Riemsdyk-Matt Irwin
Kuemper remains day-to-day. He is eligible to come off the IR at any time.
Capitals vs. Blackhawks: Players To Watch
First off, watch for Alex Ovechkin. The captain is three goals away from 800 and has four straight empty-net goals over the last three games. Also, look out for Dylan Strome, who is making his first return to United Center since the Blackhawks let him walk this summer. He wants to show them that they made a mistake letting him walk, and he's done that so far. He's second on the Capitals in scoring and has 22 points in 30 games, putting him on pace for 60 points. Also look for Evgeny Kuznetsov, who's on a five-game point streak, and Anthony Mantha, who has points in three straight. Marcus Johansson and Lars Eller have goals in back-to-back games, and Eller has points in four of his last five outings.
On the Chicago side, there are several names to look out for. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews remain dangerous, as Kane leads the team with 20 points in 26 games. New acquisition Max Domi has also made an impact, and his nine goals lead the team. Meanwhile, keep an eye on the likes of Philipp Kurashev and Jason Dickinson.
How To Tune In
This is a nationally televised showdown. Fans can catch the action on ESPN.
Puck drop is at 9 p.m. at United Center. It marks Washington's eighth game on the road over the last nine outings.