Capitals Game Day
Capitals vs. Islanders: Lines, Tale of the Tape, Who To Watch
The Washington Capitals are in for a critical division showdown and will have a new lineup as they take on the New York Islanders in the first game of a back to back.
The Washington Capitals are in for one of their most important games of the season, as they take on the New York Islanders in a high-stakes game that could complicate the playoff picture quite a bit for both sides.
Here's everything to know ahead of puck drop.
Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders: Tale of the Tape
The Capitals (23-16-6) are still getting used to having Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson in the mix and are eagerly pushing to get back on track. After a red-hot December rocketed them back up the standings, they have dropped three of the last four contests, including back-to-back games against the Philadelphia Flyers. In response, head coach Peter Laviolette tweaked the lineup and will rely on their big guns to step up and secure a key win over a Metro Division rival that is just three points behind them in the standings. Special teams has struggled of late, with the power play going 0-for-9 over the last four games and the penalty kill dropping out of the top-10 (80.6). And, while the offense is going through a bit of a rough stretch, the team is still not giving up too much and surrenders the ninth-least goals per game (2.76).
New York (23-18-3) is 5-4-1 in its last 10 games, and the Islanders have also had their share of struggles this season. However, they have shown stronger play of late, which has helped them close back in on a playoff spot as former Washington assistant Lane Lambert continues to work to lead the team in the right direction as the first-year bench boss after taking over for Barry Trotz this summer. Despite woes, the team is also one that doesn't give up much (tied for fifth with 2.66 GA/G, sixth with a PK% of 82.4 ), and they have an impressive young arsenal and stellar young netminder in Ilya Sorokin. Still, the offense needs more from its stars, and the power play struggles are more than evident (sixth-worst in the NHL at 18 percent).
Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders: Lines
The Capitals continue to make changes up front and will see Dylan Strome draw back in after he was a healthy scratch on Saturday. He will be put back on the first line with Alex Ovechkin, while Lars Eller will sit as a healthy scratch for the first time as Laviolette changes things up and continues to work to balance the 14 healthy forwards.
Here are the lines from Monday's morning skate on Long Island, via The Washington Post's Samantha Pell:
Alex Ovechkin-Dylan Strome-Conor Sheary
Anthony Mantha-Evgeny Kuznetsov-T.J. Oshie
Sonny Milano-Nicklas Backstrom-Tom Wilson
Marcus Johansson-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway
Erik Gustafsson-Trevor van Riemsdyk
Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen
Matt Irwin-Martin Fehervary
Darcy Kuemper will get the first start of the team's back-to-back series, as he'll play against New York Monday while Charlie Lindgren is expected to get the nod against his hometown Minnesota Wild on Tuesday at home.
Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders: Players To Watch
As always, keep an eye on the big man. Alex Ovechkin hit the 30-goal mark for the record 17th time on Saturday and is on pace for 54 goals, and in 64 career games vs. the Islanders, he has 42 goals and 21 assists for 63 points total. Also keep an eye on Strome as he looks to make an impact while drawing back in, while he and Ovechkin are also dangerous when put on a line together. Anthony Mantha also had a strong showing back on Saturday in his first game back from a healthy scratch with four shots, two hits and a load of ice time at even strength, so look for him to make an impact on the top-6. In addition, Nic Dowd has points in four of his last six games, while Garnet Hathaway's been red-hot, too. They'll be reunited on Monday on the Island.
On the New York side, Mat Barzal leads the team with 41 points in 43 games, and Brock Nelson has also been having a strong season, though both have struggled to find twine a bit of late. Scott Mayfield has points in four of his last five games, and Noah Dobson has points in two of his last three games, while Anthony Beauvillier and Casey Cizikas are also both coming off one-goal performances against the Montreal Canadiens. Also look out for stars Anders Lee and Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
How To Tune In
Local fans can catch the action live on NBC Sports Washington Plus and tune in at WJFK 106.7 The Fan and Caps Radio 24/7. Islanders fans can watch on MSG Sportsnet.
Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. ET at UBS Arena.