Vitek Vanecek To Start In Goal, No Other Lineup Changes: News From Capitals Morning Skate In Vancouver

The Washington Capitals held one final workout Friday morning in Vancouver. They  wrap-up their western-Canada road trip tonight when they face the Canucks, with puck drop set for 10:00 PM ET.

Vitek Vanecek will get the start in goal. The Capitals forward lines and defensive pairs at this morning’s skate:

These lines were also how the Capitals finished with their lines in the third period in Edmonton, with Sheary and Wilson flopping spots.

It looks as though Daniel Sprong, Michal Kempny and Matt Irwin will once again be the healthy scratches tonight.

Visiting Vancouver

The Capitals wrap up their three-game Western Canada trip (which they are 1-0-1 on so far after a 4-3 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday) and continue a stretch where they play five of six away from home.

The Canucks continue a seven-game homestand (tied for the longest of the season) after opening it with a 5-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday.

The Capitals power play could be the difference tonight, as the ‘Nucks have the league’s worst penalty kill. Our complete game preview can be found here.

The Canucks have been hot as of late, won five of their last seven, including past three at Rogers Arena. They also hold a slight edge in goaltending, but #ALLCAPS  with slightly better offensive/possession stats.

Nicklas Backstrom

Nicklas Backstrom recorded a goal and an assist against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, marking his 20th point of the season (5g, 15a) and the 1,000th point of his career (263g, 737a). Backstrom became the second player in franchise history to reach the 1,000-point mark, joining Alex Ovechkin (1,390).

Since his NHL debut on Oct. 5, 2007, Backstrom became the fifth player to record 1,000 points during that span, joining Ovechkin (1,192), Sidney Crosby (1,159), Patrick Kane (1,153) and Evgeni Malkin (1,043). With 737 career assists, Backstrom had the sixth-most assists by any player who reached the 1,000-point mark in NHL history and he is the only active player with at least 737 assists at the milestone.

Since his NHL debut, Backstrom ranks first in the NHL with 737 assists and second with 405 power play points, despite ranking 17th in games played. He is the first player from his 2006 NHL Draft class to reach the mark, and he holds a 61-point lead over the next highest scoring player from his class (Phil Kessel: 939 career points).

In addition to becoming the 93rd player in NHL history to reach the milestone, Backstrom is the sixth Swedish player in NHL history to record 1,000 points. Backstrom ranks fourth among Swedish players in NHL history with 737 assists. His 0.96 points per game rate ranks second among Swedish players with at least 1,000 points, only behind Mats Sundin, who averaged 1.00 points per game and is the all-time Swedish points leader with 1,349.

The Great 8

Alex Ovechkin scored two goals Tuesday night against the Calgary Flames, marking his 35th and 36th goals of the season and the 765th and 766th of his career, tying him with Jaromir Jagr for the third-most goals in NHL history. Ovechkin (1,253 GP) tied Jagr (1,733 GP) in 480-fewer games played and will now look to pass him when the Capitals take on the Edmonton Oilers tonight at Rogers Place.

Ovechkin additionally recorded his 157th career multi-goal game, leaving him one shy of tying Brett Hull (158) for the second-most multi-goal games in NHL history. Ovechkin’s second goal stood as the game-winner, the 120th of his career, leaving him one shy of Gordie Howe for the second-most game winning goals in NHL history.

Ovechkin ranks fourth in the NHL with 36 goals this season and eighth in points (70). The Capitals hold a record of 20-3-4 when Ovechkin scores a goal this season and a 26-9-6 record when he records a point. Ovechkin is on pace to record 50 goals this season. No player in NHL history has reached the 50-goal mark at the age of 36 or older. If he’s able to reach the 50-goal mark, he will tie Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky for the most such instances in NHL history (9x). Ovechkin would additionally tie Gretzky for the most 40-goal seasons in NHL history (12).

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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