Photo: David Becker/Getty Images
The Washington Capitals visit the Vegas Golden Knights for the lone time this season on Monday afternoon at T-Mobile Arena. The Capitals, who took the first meeting between the two teams by a score of 5-2 at Capital One Arena on November 9, are looking for their first regular-season win in Las Vegas. Action from Sin City can be seen on NBC Sports Washington locally or NBCSN nationally beginning at 6 PM ET.
The Capitals close out a three-game road trip in Vegas on Monday looking to make it a successful one after splitting the first two games. Their 3-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes snapped a four-game winning streak on the road and was only their second loss in the past seven away from home since dropping back-to-back road games in regulation in December, the only time that they have done so this season. The Capitals’ 21-7-1 road record is the best in the NHL this season.
Saturday’s loss was the Capitals’ third in four games and fifth in eight (3-5-0) after they won their first game after the NHL All-Star Break. In addition, they are 11-10-0 since a season-long six-game winning streak ended at the beginning of December. The Capitals have allowed 38 goals in their previous 10 games (an average of 3.8 per game) and at least three goals in three of their past four and six of their last nine. Saturday’s game marked the first time that they didn’t score at least two goals since January 11. Their lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Metropolitan Division lead is now down to only one point and the Penguins have a game in hand.
Defenseman John Carlson’s 69 points rank 12th in the NHL this season while his 54 assists are three behind center Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers for the league-lead. His +15 rating is tied for 33rd in the league and is second on the Capitals behind only defenseman Radko Gudas (+19, tied for 20th). After recording two goals and nine points in his last six games, the 30-year-old was held off of the scoresheet in Arizona. He has a -6 rating in the Capitals’ last four games. Captain Alex Ovechkin, who is currently on a four-game pointless drought after scoring 11 goals in five games, remains two goals away from 700 in his NHL career. His 40 goals this season are second in the NHL, two behind Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak for the league-lead. Center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who has missed the past two games due to an upper-body injury, is still day-to-day and will not suit up against the Golden Knights on Monday.
The Capitals’ average of 3.50 goals-per-game is the fourth-highest in the NHL this season and they have scored at least three goals in nine of their past 11 games. Their average of 3.02 goals-against per game is currently tied with the Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets for 13th. The Capitals’ 20.5% power-play efficiency is tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the league average but their 83.7% penalty-killing rate is fourth. The Capitals’ average of 32.1 shots-per-game is tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for tenth while their average of 29.9 shots-against per game is the sixth-fewest. Their 48.6% faceoff-winning percentage is the sixth-worst in the NHL.
Goaltender Braden Holtby, who is 21-12-4 with an .897 save percentage and a 3.11 goals-against average, will make his third straight start against the Golden Knights on Monday. The 30-year-old has posted a .931 save percentage or higher in each of his past three outings and five of his past seven. In four career regular-season games against the Golden Knights, Holtby is 2-2-0 with a .907 save percentage and a 2.77 goals-against average. He made 30 saves in the Capitals’ 5-2 win over the Golden Knights in November.
The Golden Knights continue a five-game homestand and a stretch where they play nine out of 10 games at T-Mobile Arena. They have taken each of the first two games of the homestand, most recently a 1-0 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday and have earned points in three straight home games after a three-game regulation losing streak at home. The Golden Knights are 16-10-4 at home this season.
The Golden Knights have had an inconsistent season with a 30-22-8 record, the league average in points (68), but are second in the Pacific Division and are one point behind the Vancouver Canucks for first as they are in arguably the worst division in the NHL this season. Since firing head coach Gerard Gallant and replacing him with former San Jose Sharks coach Peter DeBoer, the Golden Knights are 5-3-2. They have been involved in some crazy hockey games lately as three of their past five have seen the two teams combine for at least nine goals, and they have scored at least four goals in half of their games under DeBoer.
Forward Mark Stone leads the Golden Knights with 37 assists and 57 points in 60 games this season. While the 27-year-old has been held off of the scoresheet in three of his past four outings, he has two goals and nine points in his past five and four goals and 14 points in 10 games since the coaching change. Forward Max Pacioretty leads the team with 26 goals and has recorded five goals and seven points in his last five, though he has been held off of the scoresheet in two of his last three. Forward Chandler Stephenson, who was dealt from the Capitals to the Golden Knights in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2021, is 16th in the NHL this season with a +22 rating and has eight goals, 18 points, and a +17 rating in 31 games since joining the Golden Knights, matching his career-high in points which he had in 67 games in 2017-18. In 55 games with the Capitals and Golden Knights this season, the 25-year old has 11 goals and 22 points.
The Golden Knights’ 3.10 goals-per-game is at the league average. Their 21.8% power-play efficiency is 10th while their 78.4% penalty-killing rate is the 10th-worst. The Golden Knights are the highest shooting team in the NHL this season with an average of 34.6 per game and are just a tick better than the Capitals at 29.8 shots-against per game, which is fifth. At five-on-five, their 54.64% Corsi-for percentage, 54.75% Fenwick-for percentage, 55.6% expected goals-for percentage, 56.34% scoring chance-for percentage all lead the NHL while their 55.12% high-danger Corsi-for percentage is second (behind only the Minnesota Wild – 56.12%). What has hurt the Golden Knights this season has been their goaltending, which has a .908 save percentage, the fifth-worst.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who is 22-14-5 with a .905 save percentage, a 2.80 goals-against average, and four shutouts (tied with Winnipeg Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck for second in the league), will likely start for the Golden Knights on Monday. Including the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, the 35-year-old has allowed at least three goals in nine straight against the Capitals. In 41 career outings against the Capitals, Fleury is 23-14-2 with a .911 save percentage, a 2.63 goals-against average and four shutouts. He made 29 saves in the Golden Knights’ 5-2 loss to the Capitals in November.
- Ovechkin is aiming to reach the 700-goal mark tonight in his 1,141st career game, which would be the second-fewest games required to reach the milestone in NHL history — Wayne Gretzky (886 games) and Brett Hull (1,157 games) are the only players to record 700 goals in fewer than 1,200 games
- The Capitals lead the NHL with eight comeback wins this season and are one behind the franchise record, which was set in the 2009-10 season
- The Capitals are 10-1-3 against the Pacific Division this season
- With 25 games remaining, Carlson’s 23 multi-point games are already tied for the second-most in the NHL by a defenseman over the last five seasons, two shy of passing San Jose Sharks’ Brent Burns’ mark of 24 in 2015-16
- Center Lars Eller has eight points in his last nine games (three goals)
By Harrison Brown