Washington At Detroit Preview: Capitals Battle The Red Wings In The Motor City

Photo: Carlos Osorio, AP

After a 4-3 overtime thriller against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday, the Washington Capitals kick off a four-game road trip against the Detroit Red Wings Saturday evening at Little Caesars Arena. Puck drop is set for just after 7:00 P.M. ET on NBC Sports Washington and the NHL Network.

Capitals 

Last season, the Capitals swept the three-game season series between the clubs, scoring a combined twelve goals. The Capitals’ most recent meeting with the Red Wings included a 3-2 victory in Detroit on January 6. Washington has a 53-45-5 history versus Detroit.

With their win over Tampa Bay, Washington improved to 18-4-5 and 41 points. They continue to lead to Metropolitan Division and tie for first place in the league with the Boston Bruins, although the Capitals have played one more game than the Bruins. On the road, the Capitals have gone 10-2-1 thus far.

Defenseman John Carlson has not picked up any points in his last three games but is still staying hot with 36 points and 28 assists. Captain Alex Ovechkin leads the team with 17 goals. He has scored three goals in his previous five games. Defenseman Dmitry Orlov scored the overtime game-winning goal on Friday, which marked his second goal of the season and first overtime goal.

Forward Nicklas Backstrom is still questionable for return. He did not play on Friday but is said to skate before Saturday’s game and will be re-evaluated for tonight’s tilt. Forward Carl Hagelin remains on injured reserve and will be eligible to play on December 3 in San Jose. After serving a three-game suspension for a spitting incident, forward Garnet Hathaway returned to the lineup on Friday.

Goaltender Ilya Samsonov is expected to start for Saturday’s game. The 22-year old has not started since November 15, which resulted in a 5-2 loss to the Montréal Canadiens at Capital One Arena. The netminder has gone 5-2-1 so far and has posted a .912 Save Percentage and 2.65 Goals-Against Average.

Rounding out the Top 5, the Capitals have a 25% power play efficiency. Their 83.3% penalty kill efficiency places them 12th in the NHL. Ovechkin has scored eight power play goals so far this season. His most recent came in Friday’s win over the Lightning. It was his 255th power play goal, which ties him for third all-time with Teemu Selanne. Hathaway leads with 30 penalty minutes.

Red Wings

Detroit ranks eighth in the Atlantic Division at 7-18-3 and 17 points. The team is riding a six-game losing streak after falling 6-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday at Wells Fargo Center. They begin a three-game homestand hosting the Capitals Saturday night. At Little Caesars Arena, the Red Wings have gone 4-8-1. Clashing with Washington, Detroit’s history is 50-48-5.

Forward Anthony Mantha leads the Red Wings in points (23) and in goals (12). He has picked up four points in his last five games. Forward Tyler Bertuzzi leads with 12 goals. Center Robby Fabbri scored the lone goal in Friday’s loss.

In his first start for the Red Wings, goaltender Calvin Pickard made 29 saves. He faced 35 shots and had a .829 Save Percentage in the fall to the Flyers. Goaltender Jimmy Howard was pulled during the first period on November 27 after allowing three goals to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Howard has a .887 Save Percentage and 3.94 Goals-Against Average. Netminder Jonathan Bernier replaced Howard in Wednesday’s game but he and his team suffered a 6-0 loss. Bernier has gone 5-6-2 and posted a .893 Save Percentage with 3.31 Goals-Against Average.

On Saturday, The Red Wings acquired goaltender Eric Comrie from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Vili Saarijarvi.

The Red Wings’ efficiency on the power play is 13.1%, which is the fourth-worst in the NHL. Last in the league is their penalty kill, which is 72.4% efficient. Mantha leads with four power play goals. Center Darren Helm has picked up 23 penalty minutes.

By Della Young

About Della Young

Della Young is a fiction writer based out of the Northern Virginia/Washington, D.C. area and an online student attending Full Sail University. She got her start in the entertainment industry at age seven as an actress. At the young age of nine, Della wrote a psychological thriller short story which sparked her interest in creative writing. She comes from a family of big Capitals fans and became inspired to start writing for sports. In her spare time, Della enjoys photography, traveling, and working on both sides of the camera. Follow Della on Twitter: @dellayoung
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