After a disheartening home stand the Montreal Canadiens are back on the road this evening in the US Capital Washington D.C. Both the Capitals and Canadiens enter tonight’s game on loosing streaks the Capitals are coming off of five straight losses, two of which have come via the shootout. Montreal on the other hand has lost three straight games in regulation time. In both previous meetings between the Canadiens and Capitals this season the Capitals have emerged victorious outscoring the Canadiens by a count of 9-3.
Rookie sensation and frontrunner for the Calder Trophy Alexander Ovechkin now has 84 points and is on pace to become the first rookie since the 1992-1993 season to score 100+ points. Ovechkin is getting things done all on his own, as he leads the Capitals in virtually every offensive category and his team leading 84 points is 44 better the former Canadiens forward Dainius Zubrus who currently has 40.
Cristobal Huet will be back in nets for the Canadiens tonight after a full week off. Huet will look to continue his recent success has he has only allowed two goals in his last three starts. Huet was in nets for the Canadiens when they lost 4-2 to the Capitals in Washington on December 23rd. It was Huet’s first regulation loss as a member of the Canadiens organization. In that game the Canadiens held a 1-0 lead at the beginning of the third period but Huet allowed four goals on just eleven shots kicking off what would turn out to be a terrible road trip for the Canadiens, as they would post a 1-4 record.
On the injury front it appears that Francis Bouillon’s leg may be worse then previously diagnosed. Bouillon will undergo a MRI sometime today to determine the damage to his left ankle. It was reported earlier that Bouillon was just suffering a contusion to his left foot but Bouillon awoke Sunday morning with a serious pain in his ankle region. On a positive not Andrei Markov skated yesterday and may return to the Canadiens line-up this evening after missing three games with back spasms. If Markov is unable to return Todd Simpson may see his first action in a Canadiens sweater this evening.
For the first time as coach of the Canadiens Bob Gainey juggled the lines against the Penguins and it resulted in an outburst of four goals unfortunately the Penguins were able to one up that number beating David Aebischer five times on just 23 shots. It will be interesting to see if Gainey will make more changes to the offensive trios this evening. Of note Alexander Perezhogin was a healthy scratch for the Canadiens on Saturday night because of his inability to put up any offensive numbers. Perezhogin has a measly two points in his past twenty-four games.
1. Of the twenty-four teams that Alexander Ovechkin has played this season he has scored on all but two of them.
2. After only scoring twice in his first thirty-two games Sheldon Souray regained his form scoring six times in his last 15 contests.
3. Although the Canadiens power play is 7th in the NHL they have had limited success against the Capitals only scoring twice on seventeen chances this season.