Preview: Capitals at Canadiens
The Washington Capitals have a chance to post back-to-back victories for the first time this season when they wrap up a four-game road trip with a visit to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. The defending Stanley Cup champions have enjoyed spectacular success in Montreal, winning five in a row and 12 of their last 13 at the Bell Centre.
First-year coach Todd Reirden acknowledged that the Capitals are “still a work in progress” after their spirited run to claiming the Stanley Cup last season. “As much as you want to talk about building momentum from last year — and we have the majority of our players back — it’s tough to replicate the intensity that goes on, and just the detail in our game could improve,” Reirden said. The Canadiens, who will be trying to avoid dropping two in a row for the first time this season, opened a three-game homestand with a 4-1 loss to Dallas and now have to face Washington and Tampa Bay over the next three nights. “It’s too bad because we worked hard,” Montreal coach Claude Julien said. “The effort was there but the result just wasn’t.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, RDS, TSN2 (Montreal), NBCS Washington
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (5-3-2): Defenseman Brooks Orpik sustained a lower-body injury in Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win at Calgary and has been ruled out of Thursday’s matchup by Reirden. Madison Bowey played 10 1/2 minutes against the Flames and could be paired with another second-year blue-liner in Christian Djoos versus Montreal. “This is the growth of them as young players, to see where they are at and to see how they do in these situations,” Reirden said. “That’s how we’ll start the game, and throughout the game they’ll probably play with other players as well. … But those will be our three pairs to start the game.”
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (6-3-2): Leading goal scorer Brendan Gallagher and Paul Byron both missed Wednesday’s practice, but only the latter’s status is in question after he suffered a lower-body injury against Dallas. “Gallagher was definitely just a maintenance day,” Julien said. “Same thing with Paulie, but Paulie I think is more day-to-day. I know Gallagher will be fine tomorrow. Can’t say the same about Paulie yet. We’ll go about it on a day-to-day basis.” With Gallagher and Byron absent, Julien juggled his lines and put together the all-Finnish trio of Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Artturi Lehkonen and Joel Armia on one unit.
1. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin had four goals and an assist in three games versus Montreal last season.
2. Canadiens G Carey Price has labored against the Capitals with a 6-13-4 record and 3.30 goals-against average.
3. Washington’s top-ranked power play is converting on 37.1 percent (13-for-35) of its chances.