The Washington Capitals have fond memories of T-Mobile Arena from their victory in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, and they will look to find that spark again and stay hot as they take on the struggling Vegas Golden Knights on the road for the first time in over two years.
Washington (43-23-10, 96 points) is looking for its third straight victory and is coming off a statement win over the top-ranked Colorado Avalanche. The Capitals are on the second-to-last game of a five-game road swing and have won seven of their last eight games overall. Meanwhile, Vegas (41-31-5) has dropped three of its last four decisions and is four points out of a Wild Card spot. Questions continue to surround the Golden Knights as they look to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Washington sits one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for third in the Metro and can pass the Pens with a win. Taking that into account, head coach Peter Laviolette is still tweaking the forward lines and trying to find out which combinations work best as the team faces a number of possibilities when it comes to first-round opponents with the standings still up in the air.
Tom Wilson moved back up to the top line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin. His third line with Anthony Mantha and Lars Eller had been seeing success, and Mantha and Eller will stick together while working with T.J. Oshie. The other combinations stayed the same as last game.
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Here are what the Capitals’ lines looked like at the team’s morning skate, per The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell:
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Tom Wilson
Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-Conor Sheary
Anthony Mantha-Lars Eller-T.J. Oshie
Johan Larsson-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway
Martin Fehervary-John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen
Trevor van Riemsdyk-Justin Schultz
Laviolette said that Ilya Samsonov will start. This will be Samsonov’s fifth start in his seventh game.
When it comes to players to watch, as always, keep an eye on the usual suspects in Alex Ovechkin, who has goals in six of his last seven games and sits two shy of 50, and John Carlson, who has points in seven straight games. Also, watch for the powerhouse fourth line of Larsson-Dowd-Hathaway. Johan Larsson has assists in four straight outings, and Garnet Hathaway has goals in back-to-back games. Nic Dowd also has points in three of his last four appearances. Another name to look out for: Marcus Johansson. No. 90 has been defensively sound for Washington and also has points in back-to-back games as he continues to grow more comfortable and find his role.
On the Golden Knights’ side of the matchup, Jonathan Marchessault is the Knights’ leading scorer has 64 points in 71 games and has points in four of his last five games, with six points in that span. Defenseman Shea Theodore also has points in three of his last four games overall.