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Capitals Notebook: Samsonov Starts, Ovechkin Out Against St. Louis’ Habs



Washington Capitals goalie Ilya Samsonov.

The Washington Capitals are looking to get back on the right track against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, which also marks Martin St. Louis’ NHL coaching debut for Montreal.

Washington is 4-6-0 in its last 10 games and is eagerly looking to put inconsistencies in the past. However, it won’t come easy, as the team has struggled in numerous areas and will be without captain Alex Ovechkin, who was not permitted to travel to Canada after testing positive for COVID-19 last week.

The Capitals have a big opportunity to capitalize against the Habs, a team that has struggled of late and surrendered seven goals to New Jersey back on Tuesday. Montreal is 1-6-3 in its last 10 games and has lost seven straight, leading the team to dismiss bench boss Dominique Ducharme and bring in St. Louis as the interim bench boss.

This is the second time this season that Washington will match up against an interim coach in their debuts, the last being Dave Lowry, who took over for Paul Maurice on Dec. 17.

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The Capitals are looking to not only spark their special teams but play a more complete game at both ends of the ice and get back to their identity and style of play.

“I think we just all individually need to play better as well, I think that falls down to each player, including myself,” Dowd said of the team’s recent performance. “I think we all have to play better and I think that will help us find our identity. Our team is such full of role players that we know what our identities are, and we just need to consistently need to get back to that and continue to work hard. That is the only way it is going to come in my opinion.”

Head coach Peter Laviolette will turn back to Ilya Samsonov in goal. Samsonov relieved Pheonix Copley in the third period of Tuesday’s stunning 5-4 loss to Columbus, stopping six of seven shots. Copley will back up, as Vitek Vanecek remains off the ice and on the injured reserve.

With Ovechkin out, the Capitals recalled Brett Leason from Hershey to help fill that void. Aliaksei Protas is also available as the extra forward. The puck drops at 7 p.m. ET.