Detroit at Washington Preview: Capitals Return Home To Face Red Wings

NBC Sports WashingtonPhoto: NBC Sports Washington

The Washington Capitals host the Detroit Red Wings for the second of three meetings between the two teams on Tuesday night. The Capitals beat the Red Wings 3-1 back on November 23 at Capital One Arena the first time the teams clashed. Action from the District can be seen on NBC Sports Washington or NBCSN for those outside of the DMV. 

Red Wings

Detroit comes into town on the second game of a back-to-back after hosting the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night. The game against the Capitals on Tuesday begins a stretch where they will play seven of the next nine games away from home.

After going through a 7-2-0 stretch in November, the Red Wings lost three of their next four games and seven of their next nine. Just when it seemed Detroit gained some ground in the Eastern Conference postseason picture, they fell back to tie the Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, and Ottawa Senators for the 10th best record in the Eastern Conference. However, they find themselves ahead of Monday’s game against the Kings just five points back of the Montreal Canadiens for the final wild-card spot in the East. They dropped a 3-2 decision to the New York Islanders on Saturday, their previous game before Monday’s tilt with Los Angeles.

Forward Dylan Larkin leads the team with 28 points and co-leads the team along with forward Andreas Athanasiou with 11 goals. The two forwards are the only players on the Red Wings to eclipse the double-digit goal plateau. Forward Gustav Nyquist leads the team with 20 assists and is third on the team with 27 points.

Entering Monday’s tilt with the Kings, the Red Wings average the sixth-fewest shots in the league, taking just 28.9 per game. Detroit also gives up the third-most shots-per-game in the league at 34.1. Only the Ottawa Senators (38.3) and the Anaheim Ducks (35.4) give up more shots than the Red Wings.

Goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who is 4-7-0 with a save percentage of .893 and a goals-against average of 3.38 this season, will likely start on Tuesday after Jimmy Howard started against the Kings on Monday. He made 17 saves on 20 shots in the 3-1 loss to Washington on November 23. Lifetime against the Capitals, the 30-year old is 4-5-0 with a save percentage of .894 and a goals-against average of 2.83 in nine career appearances against the team.


Forward T.J. Oshie skated while taking full contact on Monday in practice for the first time since getting hit in the head by defenseman Josh Morrissey in the Capitals’ 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on November 14. The forward has missed the past 11 games with a concussion. Oshie, 31, is expected to play against Detroit on Tuesday. He has nine goals and 14 points in 18 games this season. However, forward Tom Wilson, who has missed the past two games with a concussion, has not resumed skating yet but is expected to resume skating later this week. With Oshie back in the lineup, forward Andre Burakovsky, who just has four points in his past 11 games and a -5 rating, which is tied for the third worst on the team this season, will likely come out of the lineup.

The Capitals have won two straight games and nine of their past 11 to secure a three-point lead for first place in the Metropolitan Divison standings. They return home from a three-game road trip, where they went 2-1-0, and play four of their next five at home, where they are 8-4-2.

Captain Alex Ovechkin leads the team with 36 points and leads the NHL with 22 goals entering play on Tuesday. He is currently on an 11-game point streak, where he’s tallied 10 goals and 16 points in that span.

The Capitals have four players who average at least a point-per-game: Ovechkin (1.24), center Nicklas Backstrom (1.17), center Evgeny Kuznetsov (1.17), and defenseman John Carlson (1.07). All players have at least 11 power-play points each with Backstrom and Carlson leading with 14 and Kuznetsov (12) and Ovechkin (11) right behind them.

The Capitals’ power-play ranks seventh in the NHL with an efficiency of 25.3% but has gone 6-for-35 (17.1%) efficiency since Oshie has been out. It went 0-for-3 against in the team’s 4-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

Goaltender Braden Holtby, who is 11-7-2 with a save percentage of .911, a goals-against average of 2.85, and two shutouts this season, will likely start against the Red Wings on Tuesday. He made 29 saves in the shutout in Columbus on Saturday night. Lifetime against Detroit, the 29-year old is 10-2-2 with a save percentage of .924, a goals-against average of 2.11, and one shutout.

Skate Shavings

-Defenseman Michal Kempny‘s +18 rating is tied for fourth in the NHL with Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh

-Forward Jakub Vrana‘s nine even-strength goals are second on the team behind Ovechkin’s 15

-The Capitals are 8-1-1 in their past 10 home games against the Red Wings

A Look Back In Time

Going for their fifth consecutive win, forward Marcus Johansson buried a pass from Kuznetsov in the crease 5:57 into the game to make it 1-0 Capitals. Athanasiou scored two quick goals to give Detroit the lead later in the first period. Forward Brett Connolly appeared to have gotten injured in the corner but was able to come back and pot in a rebound from defenseman Karl Alzner in the crease to tie it with 1:30 left in the period. Shortly after a minute into the second period, Carlson stripped the puck from Detroit in the defensive zone and sent it to Oshie, who ripped it past the blocker of goalie Petr Mrazek for a 3-2 lead. Oshie stripped the puck from Mrazek in the offensive zone and gave it to Carlson, who hammered it from the right circle to double the Capitals’ lead with 15:45 left in the game. Detroit would get back within one but Oshie would strike again on a one-timer from the slot on the power-play to seel the win with 5:42 remaining. Backstrom would cap the 6-3 win with an empty-netter from beyond the blue line. Holtby made 14 saves in the win.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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