The Washington Capitals (3-3-0) are back in action on Monday and are looking to build off a vital Saturday night win as they take on the New Jersey Devils (3-2-0) at Prudential Center.
Some of the tweaks made in the team’s four-goal third period against the Los Angeles Kings will remain intact, as, with Dylan Strome will remain with Alex Ovechkin and Conor Sheary while Evgeny Kuznetsov will down to the second line. And on the bottom-6, there is a new name that will draw into the lineup, as Beck Malenstyn will make his season debut.
Charlie Lindgren, meanwhile, will make his second start of the season after Darcy Kuemper started the last four games in a row. Lindgren’s first game came on Oct. 13 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he impressed with 36 saves on 39 shots for a .923 save percentage to open his D.C. tenure.
Here are the combinations from the team’s morning skate via The Washington Post’s Samantha Pell:
Alex Ovechkin-Dylan Strome-Conor Sheary
Marcus Johansson-Evgeny Kuznetsov-T.J. Oshie
Aliaksei Protas-Lars Eller-Anthony Mantha
Beck Malenstyn-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway
Dmitry Orlov-John Carlson
Martin Fehervary-Nick Jensen
Erik Gustafsson-Trevor van Riemsdyk
Connor McMichael will be a healthy scratch for the sixth time in seven games. Joe Snively and Matt Irwin are the other extras.
When it comes to names to watch, look out for Dmitry Orlov, who has four assists in his last two games and has been getting more involved offensively. Marcus Johansson is another name to look out for; he scored the game-wining goal on Monday and is on a three-game point streak, while he also has five points in six games to open the season.
As for the young guys, keep an eye on Aliaksei Protas and Malenstyn. Protas had a great game on Saturday against Los Angeles, crashing the net and generating quite a few high-danger chances out there. It was his most noticeable game since the preseason, and if he keeps playing that way, he will keep his spot in the lineup. Malenstyn, meanwhile, will get his first game as he “fits the mold” that head coach Peter Laviolette wants to see on the fourth line with Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway. While up in D.C. last season, Malenstyn led the team in hits (34) during his 12-game tenure and picked up his first NHL goal. He can kill penalties as well, which should help with Connor Brown out long-term.
Then of course, is Ovechkin. It’s been a slow start to the year for the Great 8, who has five points in six games but had all but one of those come in the third period against the Vancouver Canucks last Monday. He is still looking to break out and leads the team with 22 shots. New Jersey also holds a special place in his heart, as he scored his 700th career goal against Mackenzie Blackwood at the Rock. In 68 career games against the Devils, Ovechkin has dished 37 goals and 39 assists for a total of 76 points.
Blackwood will start on Monday, as former Capitals netminder Vitek Vanecek will sit with Blackwood getting off to a strong start to the season. He has a 3-1 record with a 2.02 GAA and .904 save percentage through four games so far for New Jersey, but hasn’t faced a lot of shots. That will be key for Washington, who needs to pile on the pressure and keep things going at 5-on-5, as well as on the power play, which went 0-for-3 on Saturday.
For the Devils, look out for Jesper Bratt, who leads the team in scoring with eight assists so far and has a helper in all five games played this season. Nico Hischier is also on a three-game point streak, and Ondrej Palat has three goals in his last three games.