Detroit Red Wings vs Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals found their offense against the defending Stanley Cup champions and hope to carry that over when they host the struggling Detroit Red Wings on Friday night (Enter Contest). The Capitals have underachieved all season offensively and scored five goals in a four-game stretch before blowing out Pittsburgh 7-1 on Wednesday, led by a five-point night from center Nicklas Backstrom.
The Capitals look to build off their season-high performance against the injury-plagued Red Wings, who are 2-6-1 since winning six straight contests. Detroit lost forward Thomas Vanek (hip) a few weeks ago and will be without speedy center Darren Helm (shoulder) about six weeks after he was injured during Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay. The Red Wings could get defenseman Niklas Kronwall (knee) back Friday, but their problems have been more on the offensive end where they have scored 18 goals over the last 10 games.
ABOUT THE RED WINGS (8-8-1)
While the absence of Vanek, Helm and Andreas Athanasiou (knee) does not help, Detroit needs more from some of its top forwards if it is to stay in the race for a playoff spot. Tomas Tatar, who had a terrific World Cup with Team Europe, has only two goals and six points while Dylan Larkin boasts a team-high five goals but only one assist in the first 17 games. Riley Sheahan, who has played on the wing most of the season, is expected to move into Helm’s spot as the third-line center, and forward Tyler Bertuzzi was recalled from the AHL. Captain Henrik Zetterberg owns seven points in seven November contests after being limited to four in 10 contests during October.
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (10-4-2)
Backstrom had two goals and three assists against the Penguins while skating primarily with T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson, and rocketed to the top of the team’s scoring list with 15 points. Ovechkin, who returned to the game Wednesday after falling awkwardly at one point, is tied with Oshie for the lead in goals with eight. The Capitals have received only three goals from their blue line, with two of them coming from Karl Alzner. Matt Niskanen or John Carlson have none, but the duo have a combined 15 assists. Goalie Braden Holtby is 6-2-0 with a 1.97 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in eight career games against the Red Wings.