The Washington Capitals made their way to Columbus, Ohio Wednesday afternoon following the team’s practice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. They face the Blue Jackets, who downed the Senators, 4-1, last night in Ottawa, tonight at Nationwide Arena.
Per Mike Vogel, Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette announced this morning that Vitek Vanecek will get the start in goal against the Blue Jackets.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 17, 2022
Vanecek made 29 saves in Tuesday’s 4-3 shootout win over the New York Islanders, and he made seven additional stops as the Caps prevailed in an eight-round shootout. The win over the Isles gives Vanecek the first five-game winning streak of his two-year NHL career.
As per Vogel, Vanecek’s 1.79 GAA at 5-on-5 this season is second in the League this season among goaltenders with more than a thousand minutes in the crease; only Boston’s Jeremy Swayman (1.75) is better. Vanecek owns a .936 save pct. at 5-on-5 in 2021-22, third in the circuit behind only the Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin (.939) and the Blues’ Ville Husso (.938).
Since the calendar flipped to 2022, Vanecek is 9-3-0 in 14 appearances (a dozen starts), with three shutouts, a 2.18 GAA and a .918 save pct.
Elvis Merzlikins started and won his third straight game for the Jackets on Wednesday night in Ottawa, stopping 30 of the 31 shots he faced in a 4-1 victory. Therefore, our expectation is that Joonas Korpisalo will get the net tonight for Columbus against the Capitals.
PROJECTED LINES VIA MIKE VOGEL
8-Ovechkin, 92-Kuznetsov, 73-Sheary
39-Mantha, 19-Backstrom, 77-Oshie
10-Sprong, 24-McMichael, 43-Wilson
45-Jonsson-Fjallby, 26-Dowd, 21-Hathaway
57-van Riemsdyk, 2-Schultz
20-Eller (COVID-19 protocol)
62-Hagelin (upper body)
91-Snively (upper body)
14-Nyquist, 96-Roslovic, 29-Laine
16-Domi, 34-Sillinger, 28-Bjorkstrand
93-Voracek, 7-Kuraly, 59-Chinakov
50-Robinson, 17-Danforth, 52-Bemstrom
38-Jenner (lower back)
Youth Is King
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby scored his first career goal on Tuesday against the New York Islanders, becoming the ninth different Capitals rookie this season to score his first career goal (Hendrix Lapierre, Martin Fehervary, Connor McMichael, Brett Leason, Garrett Pilon, Aliaksei Protas, Beck Malenstyn and Joe Snively).
— nopClips (@nopClips) March 16, 2022
This marks the third time in franchise history the Capitals have had at least nine rookies score their first career goal in the same season (1981-82: 10 rookie scorers; 1979-80: 9 rookie scorers).
This season, the Capitals have had 10 different rookies with points, which ranks fourth in franchise history (1974-75: 14; 1981-82: 12; 1975-76: 11). The Capitals’ 55 combined points (25g, 30a) by their rookies is the ninth-most in the NHL this season.
Rinkside Update With Daniel Sprong
Washington enters tonight’s game riding a six-game point streak (5-0-1) and is one of two teams in the NHL without a regulation loss in March (Florida Panthers: 6-0-1). Since March 1, the Capitals have scored 4.00 goals per game and have allowed 2.67 goals per game, both of which rank tied for sixth in the NHL. Additionally, Washington’s 38.9 power play percentage (seven goals on 18 opportunities) in March is the third-highest in the League, while their 86.7 penalty kill percentage (13 of 15 opposing power play opportunities killed off) is the seventh-highest.
Alex Ovechkin Mic’d Up