Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The Washington Capitals visit the New Jersey Devils for the final meeting of the season between the two teams. After getting drubbed 6-0 in the Devils’ home opener on October 11, the Capitals downed the Devils 6-3 on November 30 and 3-0 on March 8 at home. Action from Prudential Center can be seen on NBC Sports Washington or NBCSN for those outside the DMV beginning at 7:30 PM ET.
The Capitals’ four-game road-trip comes to an end after Tuesday’s game in Newark. After entering the road swing riding a seven-game winning streak, which tied the team’s season-long winning-streak from November, the Capitals have gone 1-2-0 in the first three games on this road trip, though they arguably deserved a better fate in both of those losses as they controlled play for the majority of those games. Most recently, the Capitals fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 6-3 on Saturday night. They are 21-14-4 on the road this season.
After a two-goal performance against the Lightning, captain Alex Ovechkin‘s goal total for this season is up to 48. Should he get two goals against the Devils on Tuesday, the 33-year old will hit the 50-goal plateau for the eighth time in his career and for the first time since 2015-16 when he hit that mark on the dot. He also leads the Capitals with 81 points this season. Defenseman John Carlson‘s 52 assists this season lead the Capitals.
Saturday’s loss marked the 10th straight game in which the Capitals scored at least three goals. They have scored 41 goals in those ten games (an average of 4.10 goals-per-game) and have recorded at least five goals in a game seven times over that stretch. This season, the Capitals’ average of 3.39 goals-per-game is tied with the Winnipeg Jets for sixth in the NHL.
The Capitals’ 52 points against the East this season is second in the conference, only behind the Lightning, who have 70. In their final 10 games of the regular season, nine of them come against opponents from the Eastern Conference. In addition, they are 12-7-2 against the Metropolitan Division with half of their remaining games coming against opponents within their own division.
Goaltender Pheonix Copley, who is 15-5-3 with a save percentage of .904, a goals-against average of 2.97, and one shutout in 24 games this season, is expected to get the start against the Devils with goaltender Braden Holtby expected to go against the Lightning at home on Wednesday night. In his lone appearance in his career against the Devils, which was also his first career start with the Capitals, the 27-year old made 30 saves in the 6-0 loss on the Devils’ opening night earlier this season. Since returning from the All-Star break, Copley has won all five starts and has a 2.61 goals against average and a .921 save percentage in his last three games.
After sneaking into the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the second wild-card in the East last season, the Devils became the third team in the NHL to be eliminated from postseason contention earlier this week. Their 63 points are the third-fewest in the Eastern Conference only ahead of the Detroit Red Wings (60) and Ottawa Senators (56). In addition, they have lost eight of their last 10 games, going 2-7-1 in that stretch.
The Devils return home from a season-long six-game road trip, which began with the 3-0 loss to the Capitals on March 8. They went 2-4-0 overall on the road trip. The Devils open a four-game homestand on Tuesday and play six of their next seven at home before ending the season with a short two-game road trip. The Devils are 17-12-6 at Prudential Center this season.
With last year’s MVP in forward Taylor Hall, who recorded 11 goals and 37 points in 33 games this season, out for the year, forward Kyle Palmeri leads the Devils with 27 goals and 50 points in 69 games this season. The 28-year old has recorded a point in only three of his past 10 games after scoring two goals and five points in two. Center Nico Hischier leads the Devils with 27 assists this season.
The Devils’ average of 3.36 goals-against per game is tied with the Red Wings for the third-most in the NHL while their average of 2.77 goals-per-game is the 10th-fewest. One bright spot for the Devils this season is their penalty kill, where they rank fourth in the league with an efficiency of 83.9%.
Goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood, who is 7-8-0 with a save percentage of .919, a goals-against average of 2.63, and two shutouts this season, will likely start against the Capitals on Tuesday night. The 22-year old made 33 saves in his team’s 3-0 loss to the Capitals on March 8, his lone start in his career against Washington.
The Capitals’ 21.8% power-play efficiency is the ninth-best in the league while their 79.8% penalty-killing rate is 21st.
The Devils’ 17.6% power-play efficiency ranks 19th in the NHL.
- Ovechkin enters Tuesday’s game two goals shy of passing Brendan Shanahan (656) for 13th place on the NHL’s all-time goals list
- The Capitals have scored 173 goals at five on five this season, the third highest total in the NHL (Toronto Maple Leafs: 183; Lightning: 182)
- The Capitals have an NHL-high seven different players with at least 18 goals (Ovechkin: 48; forwards T.J. Oshie and Jakub Vrana: 21; forward Tom Wilson: 20; forward Brett Connolly: 19; centers Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom: 18)
- The Capitals have earned a point in 13 of their last 14 games against the Devils (11-1-2) and have scored five or more goals in six of their last 10 games
A Look Back In Time
The Capitals got two goals from Backstrom. In addition, Ovechkin and defenseman Mike Green each scored in a 4-0 win over the Devils. Carlson and center Jay Beagle each got two assists. Holtby made 21 saves in the shutout.
By Harrison Brown