Following a 7-3 clunker against Toronto two days ago, the Washington Capitals are back in action as they look to rebound in Canada against the Montreal Canadiens.
With the exception of Thursday’s lackluster loss, the Capitals have been turning things around and playing strong hockey over this recent stretch. Prior to their Leafs defeat, Washington had won four straight games, scoring at least four goals in each of those decisions, including three goals in the first period of two of those four. The Capitals (41-23-10) will look to find that spark again and continue to shake up the East playoff picture against the struggling Habs (20-44-11), who have dropped seven of their last nine and fell 3-0 to the New York Islanders on Friday.
When it comes to the lineup, Washington appears to be sticking with the same lines that have won four of the last five matchups. Here are what the lines looked like at Monday’s morning skate in Montreal, per Mike Vogel:
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Conor Sheary
Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Anthony Mantha-Lars Eller-Tom Wilson
Johan Larsson-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway
Martin Fehervary-John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen
Trevor van Riemsdyk-Justin Schultz
Head coach Peter Laviolette told reporters that he is hoping Orlov, who has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury, will return. He took part in the morning skate. If that is the case, he will return to his spot on the second pairing with Nick Jensen. Trevor van Riemsdyk will go back to the third pairing with Justin Schultz, and Matt Irwin will draw out.
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Meanwhile, Vitek Vanecek was in the starter’s net and will get the nod for his first start since Sunday. Ilya Samsonov has started four of the last five games as both goalies get time with the Capitals still deciding on their No. 1 goalie for the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
When it comes to players to watch, keep an eye on Tom Wilson, who has points in four straight, and Lars Eller, who is on a three-game point streak. The Mantha-Eller-Wilson line has found a spark of late, and can keep the momentum going against Montreal. Also keep an eye on the fourth line, as Nic Dowd and Johan Larsson have points in back-to-back games. Garnet Hathaway also hit a new career-high in goals (12).
On the Montreal side of the coin, look out for leading scorer Nick Suzuki, who has 56 points in 75 games this season. Suzuki has points in four of his last five outings.