Alexander Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals are in Montreal for the first time this season and unfortunately for hockey fans and the Capitals the playoffs seem as possible as pigs sprouting wings. Washington was in tight for the battle for 8th until January 11th, but since then the Capitals have managed just four wins in their past 16 games. Not that the Canadiens have been playing much batter eking out just five wins in that same time frame.
Jaroslav Halak will make his second NHL start Tuesday night, the Slovakian native leads the AHL in save percentage as well as shutouts and ranks second in goals against average. Sunday evening in Columbus Halak shutout the Jackets for the first 48 minutes and ended up earning the games 1st star and earned the Canadiens a win for the first time in two weeks.
Washington enters tonight’s game on a three game slide, their last loss coming to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Alexander Ovechkin has just one goal in his last seven games and has fallen from 1st to 4th in the race for the Rocket Richard trophy. Ovechkin has 4 assists against the Canadiens in two games this season but has yet to pot a goal.
The Canadiens and Capitals have split their two decisions this season. The Canadiens won the first meeting 4-1 but the Capitals returned the favour just over a week later crushing the Canadiens 5-1 on the night the Canadiens were hammered by the flu bug.
Game Notes: Both teams have their #1 goalies on the shelf as Cristobal Huet recently had surgery on his hamstring and Olaf Kolzig is out with a knee injury. Alex Kovalev and Craig Rivet are also both still on the IR for the Canadiens. Steve Begin who missed 2 month of action with rib/back problems took a puck in the foot on Sunday and let the game his status is doubtful for tonight. Capitals defenseman Bryan Muir remains out of the line-up with a fractured foot.
1. Ovechkin has scored against every single eastern conference team this season except Montreal, Pittsburgh and New Jersey.
2. Ovechkin and Semin each have picked up four points against the Canadiens this year and former Canadien D. Zubrus has three.
3. Olaf Kolzig has stared six consecutive games against the Canadiens and 7 of the last 8. The last time the Canadiens faced a different starting goalie against the Capitals was January 4th 2004, the Canadiens won that game 4-1 and Michael Ryder had 2 goals.
4. The Capitals have won 5 of the last 6 meetings with the Canadiens in February and 5 of the last 6 meetings on Tuesdays. Hopefully the Habs can make it 5 of 7 in both categories.