On the menu for the Canadiens tonight are two major milestones one is a guarantee and the other seems quite likely. First of all Mike Johnson will suit up for his 600th career NHL game and Captain Saku Koivu will look for at least a single goal or assist to give the oft injured Fin 500 points for his career. Koivu is also just 2 points shy of Canadiens GM Bob Gainey for 21st in all time Canadiens scoring. Mike Johnson is now the 7th Habs player with 600+ games, Sergei Samsonov is just 28 games away from reaching the plateau.
The Capitals on the other hand have more to be worried about than milestones as their 1 win and 7 losses over the past three weeks has seen them fall from 5th in the Eastern Conference to 12th. Four appears to be the magic number for the Capitals as they have a 13-2-1 record when scoring 4 or more goals on the other hand they have a 1-6-2 record when allowing 4 or more. Alexander Ovechkin has not scored in four consecutive games.
Special teams remains a dominant part of the new NHL and thankfully for the Canadiens they are still a force to be reckoned with in both the power play and penalty kill ranked number one in both categories. However the Canadiens power play has scored just twice in the past five games and allowed four against while on the penalty kill.
Olaf Kolzig and Cristobal Huet appear to be the starters for their respective teams tonight. Huet has a 4-1 lifetime record against Washington & is 8-4 with a 2.32 goals against average and a .934 save pct. on the road this season.
Game Notes: Steve Begin remains the only injured Canadiens player while the Capitals have four players on the shelf Defenseman John Erskine & Bryan Muir has a fractured foot and is out indefinitely, Right wing Matt Bradley underwent hand surgery and is out indefinitely and Right wing Richard Zednik underwent sports hernia surgery and is out indefinitely
1. The Capitals have lost 16 of their last 19 Thursday games.
2. The Downey or Murray battle must favour Downey right now because with Aaron in the line-up the Canadiens are 3-0 in his last three games while the Habs are 0-3 will Garth in.
3. After posting a +/- rating of +11 in the first 20 games of the season Alexander Perezhogin is a -1 in his last 19 games.
4. With a win tonight the Canadiens would reach the 53 point mark by January 5th for the first time since 1992-1993.