The Washington Capitals return home on Monday night to take on the Arizona Coyotes. This will be the first game of two games against the Coyotes in a span of two months. The Coyotes and Capitals will clash at Gila River Arena in Glendale right before the holiday break on December 22.
The Coyotes are beginning a 3-game road trip Monday night in Washington. They will play at PPG Paints Arena against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday and will visit Scottrade Arena on Thursday night to take on the St. Louis Blues.
The Coyotes are currently last in the league with a 2-12-1 record through their first 15 games but have won two of their past four, most recently a 2-1 shootout victory last night against the Carolina Hurricanes. However, neither of their wins have come in regulation. The shootout win over the Hurricanes on Saturday marked the Coyotes’ first win at home this season. The Coyotes are 1-7-0 away from Gila River Arena heading into Monday night against the Capitals.
While there have been very few bright spots for this Arizona team a month into the season, Clayton Keller has established himself into the Calder Trophy conversation. He leads NHL rookies and is tied for fourth in the NHL with 10 goals with Maple Leafs’ center Auston Matthews. Keller is tied for 10th in the NHL with 16 points. He scored the Coyotes’ lone regulation goal last night.
Center Max Domi is second on the team with 10 points, including one goal. The Coyotes acquired center Derek Stepan in a trade with the New York Rangers on June 23 and he has two goals and seven points through his first 15 games with the Coyotes.
Also acquired in that trade was Antti Raanta, who is expected to get the net tomorrow night. He is 1-2-1 with a .911 save percentage and a 3.13 goals against average through five games. He was 16-8-2 with a .922 save percentage and a 2.26 goals against average in 30 games with the Blueshirts last year.
The Capitals are coming off of their first set of back-to-back wins since the first two games of the regular season and have won 3 of their past 4 games going into Monday night. They start their fourth set of back-to-backs this season, winning the first half three times but have lost the back half in all of the past three situations. They play at the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center in Buffalo on Tuesday night.
Washington most recently defeated the Boston Bruins at TD Garden in Boston on Saturday by a 3-2 count. Braden Holtby made 31 saves in the victory and Tom Wilson scored his first two goals of the season. That marked Wilson’s first career multi-goal game in the regular season. Alex Ovechkin notched his 11th goal of the season in Boston.
The Capitals have gotten a lot of secondary scoring as of late. Center Lars Eller has three goals and six points in his past four games. But, they haven’t gotten enough primary scoring as Ovechkin netted his first in six games prior to last night. T.J. Oshie has not scored since October 20, a 4-3 overtime victory at Little Caesars’ Arena against Detroit and Nicklas Backstrom has not scored since an 8-2 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers on October 14.
The Capitals did not practice on Sunday following their 3-2 victory in Boston and will look for its first three-game winning streak of the season. Phillipp Grubauer could get the start in net because of the back-to-back. He has gone 0-3-1 in four outings with a 4.08 goals against average and a .876 save percentage. He is 0-1-0 with a 2.69 goals against average and a .889 save percentage in two career outings against Arizona.
-Alex Ovechkin has 6 goals and 15 points in 14 career games against the Coyotes
-Washington has gone 4-3-1 in eight meetings against the Coyotes since the NHL’s standings realignment happened in 2013-14
-Washington plays seven of their next 12 games against Western Conference foes and play their first home game against the Western Conference tomorrow against the Coyotes. They were 19-8-1 in games against the Western Conference last season.
A Look Back in Time
On January 16, 2006, Alex Ovechkin scored “The Goal” in a 6-1 victory at the Phoenix Coyotes. He scored two goals in the game, the 31st and 32nd of his rookie campaign. Ovechkin scored one of the best goals in NHL history dangling past a Coyotes’ defenseman, falling on his back, and putting the puck past then-Coyotes’ goaltender Brian Boucher. Ovechkin scored on his backend in his best goal he has ever scored up to date. He left then-Coyotes’ coach and the NHL’s all-time points leader Wayne Gretzky in awe as Gretzky kept watching the replay on the jumbotron. Ovechkin ended his rookie season with 52 goals and 106 points in 81 games. He won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year that season.
By Harrison Brown