Washington at St. Louis Preview: Capitals Begin Midwest Road Trip vs. Red-Hot Blues

Photo: Joe Puetz/NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues battle for the first time in 27 months in the Gateway City on Friday night. The Capitals took the 2019-20 regular-season opener by a score of 3-2 in overtime to spoil the then-defending Stanley Cup Champions banner-raising ceremony and have won six of the past eight games against the Blues dating back to the 2015-16 season. Action from Enterprise Center can be seen beginning at 8 PM ET on NBC Sports Washington locally or NHL Network nationally.

Schedule

The Capitals start a two-game road-trip on Friday with the trip set to close against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday and a stretch where they play three games in four nights. They have not played since a 4-3 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils at home on Sunday and will not play again for four days after Monday’s home game against the Boston Bruins.

The Blues begin a season-long five-game homestand on Friday, which will be just their fourth game since the league resumed the regular season on December 28 and second since they participated in the 2022 NHL Winter Classic. They are coming off of a 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.

Records

Capitals: 10-3-3 on the road this season, .719 points percentage (sixth in NHL), won two straight and are 3-0-1 in their last four away from Capital One Arena

Blues: 12-3-2 at home, .765 points percentage (third), 10-0-1 in past 11 at Enterprise Center

How Each Team Is Doing

Capitals: 2-0-1 since NHL resumed season and are 15-4-4 (fourth) since November 7

Blues: 2-1-0 since pause ended and 11-5-3 (11th) since November 17

Standings

Capitals: tied atop of Metropolitan Division with New York Rangers with both teams having played 34 games entering Thursday, when the Rangers visit the Vegas Golden Knights (10 PM ET, ESPN+); one point behind Tampa Bay Lightning, who host the Calgary Flames (7 PM ET, ESPN+) on Thursday, for first in Eastern Conference and will enter Friday with two games in hand; tied for second in points percentage in Metropolitan Division (Carolina Hurricanes: .758) and fourth in NHL (Florida Panthers: .727, Toronto Maple Leafs, .719).

Blues: one point behind Nashville Predators for first in Central Division with both teams having played 34 games entering Thursday, when the Predators take on the Los Angeles Kings at Crypto.com Arena (10:30 PM ET, ESPN+); fourth in division in points percentage (Colorado Avalanche: .690, Predators, Minnesota Wild: .645); fifth in Western Conference in points percentage (Calgary Flames: .645) and 12th in NHL at .632.

Team Leaders

Capitals
Points: LW Alex Ovechkin, 50
Goals: Ovechkin, 24
Assists: Ovechkin, 26
Plus-Minus: D Dmitry Orlov, +20
TOI-per-game: D John Carlson, 23:41

Additional Notes: Ovechkin, 36, has 12 goals and 24 points in his last 17 games; Carlson, 31, has two goals and six points during a three-game point-streak; C Nicklas Backstrom has an assist in all three games that he has played this season; C Lars Eller has four goals and seven points in his last eight games and a point in consecutive games; RW Garnet Hathaway has earned two goals and six points in his last six games and has had an assist in back-to-back games; C Nic Dowd has two goals in his last three games; RW Tom Wilson has been held without a point in four straight and is expected to suit up in his 600th career NHL game; LW Conor Sheary has six goals and 11 points in his last 14 games

Blues
Points: RW Vladimir Tarasenko, 14
Goals: C Robert Thomas, 22
Assists: Tarasenko, 34
Plus-Minus: D Justin Faulk/LW Pavel Buchnevich: +14
TOI-per-game: D Colton Parayko: 24:09

Additional Notes: Tarasenko has six goals and 11 points during a six-game point-streak (his five-game goal-streak ended vs. Pittsburgh); Buchnevich has seven goals and 20 points in his past 16 and four two-point outings in his past seven (his four-game assist-streak ended on Wednesday); C Jordan Kyrou has four goals and eight points on three-game goal- and point-streaks; C Ivan Barbashev had a streak where he scored two points in four straight games end vs. the Penguins but has eight goals and 17 points in his last 14; Thomas has 15 assists and 17 points in his last 16; LW David Perron has seven assists and nine points in his last 10

Team Stats

Possession and Goaltending Metrics

 

The first graphic presents the possession metrics for the Capitals and Blues entering Friday’s game. The Capitals appear to have the edge in possession.

Expected Starting Goaltenders

Capitals: Vitek Vanecek, 25
6-4-5 record
.910 save percentage
2.51 goals-against average
would be first career start vs. Blues
2-2-2 in last six starts after two straight wins
21 saves in Capitals’ 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on December 19, his last appearance                                                                                                                       Was in COVID-19 protocol from 12/27-1/1

Blues: Jordan Binnington, 28
10-7-3
.908 save percentage (16th)
3.00 goals-against average (tied for 13th)
One shutout
Made 31 saves in his lone carer appearance vs. WSH (.912 save percentage) on 10/2/2019
made 36 saves in Blues’ loss in Pittsburgh on Wednesday

Injuries/Illnesses

Capitals

* LW Anthony Mantha (shoulder, 24th, indefinite)

Blues

* RW Vladimir Tarasenko (COVID-19 protocol)

* RHD Scott Perunovich (COVID-19 protocol)

* LHD Jake Walman (COVID-19 protocol)

Projected Lineups

Capitals

Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Wilson
Sheary — Backstrom  — T.J. Oshie  
Daniel Sprong — Eller — Aliaksei Protas
Carl Hagelin — Nic Dowd — Hathaway

Martin Fehervary — Carlson
Orlov — Nick Jensen
Trevor Van Riemsdyk — Justin Schultz

Vanecek
Samsonov

Scratched: C Connor McMichael, LHD Michal Kempny, LHD Dennis Cholowski

Blues

Brandon Saad — Ryan O’Reilly — Perron
Kyrou — Thomas — Klim Kostin
Brayden Schenn — Barbashev — Buchnevich
Logan Brown — Tyler Bozak — Oskar Sundqvist

Niko Mikkola — Parayko
Torey Krug — Justin Faulk
Marco Scandella — Robert Bortuzzo

Binnington
Villie Husso

Scratched: LW Nathan Walker, RW James Neal, C Joshua Dakota

Game Notes

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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