The Washington Capitals clash with the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona on Thursday night in the second and final meeting between the two teams this season. The Coyotes beat the Capitals 4-1 the first time these two teams met on November 11 at Capital One Arena. Puck drop from the desert will be at 9 PM and can be seen on NBC Sports Washington.
The Capitals look to rebound from back-to-back regulation losses after winning seven in a row. After blowing a 5-1 lead late in the second period and losing 6-5 in regulation to the Anaheim Ducks, the Capitals opened their three-game road trip with a 5-3 loss at the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night despite the game being tied at three in the final two minutes and leading 2-1 at the second intermission.
Washington already has had forward T.J. Oshie out of the lineup with an upper-body injury for the past nine games and could be without forward Tom Wilson for Thursday night’s contest in the desert. Wilson, 24, was injured on a blindside hit from Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves with more than four minutes left in the second period of Tuesday’s game and did not return. Wilson’s status against the Coyotes will likely be known when the team holds their morning skate on Thursday. He tallied seven goals in a six-game goal-scoring streak and 13 points in an eight-game point-streak before Tuesday’s game against the Golden Knights.
Captain Alex Ovechkin comes into Thursday night’s game against Arizona riding a nine-game point streak, where he’s recorded eight goals and 13 points over that span, including a goal against the Golden Knights. The 33-year old is tied with center Nicklas Backstrom for the team lead with 33 points and for second in the NHL with 20 goals along with Buffalo Sabres forward Jeff Skinner and Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point. He sits only one goal back of Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine for the league lead.
Without Oshie in the lineup, the Capitals have seen their power-play take a dip as of late. After competing with the Jets for the top man advantage in the league for about a month, the team’s power-play ranks seventh in the league, converting at a rate of 26.4%. The team went 0-for-4 against the Golden Knights despite having a man advantage for five minutes. Washington’s power-play may not be as productive as it was the first month of the season as it’s a shade under 20% (6-for-31) over the past 11 games.
Goaltender Braden Holtby, who is 10-7-2 with a save percentage of .907, a goals-against average of 3.00, and one shutout this season, will likely start against Arizona on Thursday. Lifetime against the Coyotes, the 29-year old goaltender is 4-2-0 with a save percentage of .901 and a goals-against average of 2.50.
The Coyotes enter Thursday night’s game on a four-game winning streak and only three points back of the San Jose Sharks for the third spot in the Pacific Division with 28 points and have two games in hand on the Sharks. Over their winning streak, they shutout the Nashville Predators 3-0 at Bridgestone Arena. They come in fresh off of a 2-1 win at the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night.
Arizona begins a quick two-game homestand against the Capitals on Thursday night. After hosting the Capitals, the team has a big game against the Sharks with an opportunity to get even closer to playoff position in the Western Conference. The Coyotes set sail for a four-game East coast road trip after Saturday night’s showdown with San Jose.
The Coyotes enter Thursday night with the league’s top penalty kill, which converts at a rate of 90%. The Sharks, the next highest-ranked penalty kill, kills off 85.5% of the penalty kills they face. Arizona has five of the top nine league-leaders in terms of shorthanded points: forward Michael Grabner (six) ranks first, center Brad Richardson (four) ranks second, defensemen Nicklas Hjalmarsson and Kevin Connauton in addition to forward Lawson Crouse (each has two) are tied with other NHL players for seventh.
Forward Clayton Keller leads the team in scoring with eight goals and 19 points in 26 games after posting with 23 goals and 65 points a season ago to earn himself a Calder Trophy nomination as the league’s top rookie. He is also tied for the team lead with seven power-play points with captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Keller, 20, has posted two goals and five points in his past three games.
With starting goaltender Antti Raanta on the shelf again due to injury, the Capitals will likely get rookie goaltender Adin Hill on Thursday night. Hill, 22, has started all four games of the Coyotes’ winning streak, recording a save percentage of .981 and a goals-against average of 0.60 in that span. On the season, the 22-year old netminder has a save percentage of .977 and a goals-against average of 0.56.
-The Capitals have lost five of their past six games at Arizona, going 1-3-2 in that span and the lone win coming in overtime
-The Capitals recorded 40 hits against the Golden Knights, the most hits they’ve recorded in a single game this season and the highest total since January 16, 2017, against the Pittsburgh Penguins (41)
-Ovechkin is now one shot shy of becoming the ninth player in NHL history to record 5,000 shots; should he record one shot against the Coyotes, he will reach the milestone in 1,031 games, 184 fewer games than Marcel Dionne, who holds the record for the fastest player to reach 5,000 career
A Look Back In Time
Center Jay Beagle struck in the first period sniping one short side on Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith. Ekman-Larsson scored after a spin-o-rama pass from center Sam Gagner into a wide open net to tie the game at one. That would be all the scoring in regulation. Center Eric Fehr scored off of a rebound from defenseman Brooks Orpik‘s point shot past Smith to give the Capitals a 3-2 win in overtime on November 18, 2014. Holtby made 23 saves in the win and Wilson recorded six hits.
By Harrison Brown