Washington Capitals (17-14-1, 35 points) vs New Jersey Devils (18-14-1, 37 points)
7:00 PM EST
Radio: WFAN 660 AM
Tonight will be the third of four matchups between the Devils and the Capitals. Most recently, they split a home-and-home on November 11 and 12, which saw the Capitals collect the win in New Jersey, and the Devils return the favor in Washington.
Devils Picking Up Play:
Despite being only four games over .500, the New Jersey Devils’ play recently has been picking up. Before their 4-1 loss Tuesday against division rivals, the New York Rangers, the Devils were on a season-high four game winning streak.
Looking at the standings, the Devils currently sit fourth in the Atlantic Division, but are still within striking distance of the teams above them. Currently the Devils are five points behind the Penguins, seven behind the Rangers, and nine behind the Flyers. Not only are they within striking distance of division teams, but the Devils currently sit eighth in the Eastern Conference standings. A win tonight, could put them up as high as sixth. Also, their opponents tonight , the Washington Capitals, are only two points behind the Devils for eighth. A win tonight is key for both teams.
Tonight’s game at Prudential Center will be an important one for the Devils as they look to get back on the winning side of the standings. Despite having only won half of the games on their home ice, the Devils still have the best penalty kill in the league. And while their powerplay is good enough for 27th out of 30, the Devils might catch a break due to the Capitals having collected the least amount of points, in the East, while on the road.
Last Game Against Washington:
NJD @ WSH
Final Score: 3-2 SO
The Devils found themselves down 2-0 to end the first period, but goals from Petr Sykora and Ryan Carter tied the game up shortly before the end of the second period.
After a scoreless third period and overtime, the game went into a shootout. Zach Parise scored in the first round for the Devils, but the next skater for the Capitals was Alexander Ovechkin who got one past Johan Hedberg. The shootout remained tied until the fourth round when David Clarkson, of all people, scored the game winner.
Projected Devils Lineup:
Parise (C) – Henrique – Kovalchuk (A)
Sykora – Elias (A) – Zubrus
Tedenby – Zajac – Clarkson
Sestito – Carter – Janssen
Salvador – Foster
Volchenkov – Urbom
Taormina – Fayne
*Note: Adam Larsson has been granted permission to return to Sweden to attend his grandmother’s funeral. He is expected to miss tonight’s game as well as Monday’s game against Carolina.*
The Latest on the Washington Capitals:
It’s hard to imagine that the Capitals have gone 10-14-1 since they started the season at 7-0-0. A lot has changed since than including a coaching change. After firing Bruce Boudreau, the Capitals now have Dale Hunter behind the bench calling the shots.
In their last game, on Tuesday, the Capitals defeated the Nashville Predators by a score of 4-1. After this win, the Capitals have won four out of their last six proving that the Capitals team looks to have their feet back under them. The bright side of this victory was that the Capitals big-three, Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Semin all had a goal in the game. Surprisingly, this was the first time this had happened since October 2010.
Injury wise, the Capitals are still missing Mike Green, who is still recovering from a groin injury suffered six weeks ago. Besides him, no impact players are missing from their lineup.
Also, it is being reported that the Capitals will be wearing their third jersey tonight at Prudential Center. These are the jerseys that the Capitals wore during the Winter Classic last season.
Projected Capitals Lineup:
Ovechkin (C) – Laich – Brouwer
Johansson – Backstrom (A) – Semin
Chimera – Halpern – Ward
Hendricks – Perrault – Knuble (A)
Alzner – Carlson
Schultz – Wideman
Hamrlik – Orlov
Tonight will be the one and only matchup between the Wild and the Devils. Last season, the two clubs played at Prudential Center on January 4, which saw the Wild take a 2-1 victory.
Will the Devils Show Up to Play Tonight?:
Head Coach Pete DeBoer said it best when talking about the Devils first period play on Wednesday night, saying it looked like the team was still in New Jersey.
The Devils found themselves down 3-0 at the end of the first period, which had a lot of fans in an uproar about the team’s play.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored a little past halfway of the second period, to draw the Devils within one, but the Avalanche had other plans, scoring three more unanswered goals en route to a 6-1 win.
While the team’s play hasn’t been spectacular, the team is still ahead of where they were last season at this point. While the Devils already have 12 wins this season, they didn’t get their 12th win last season until game 43.
Against the Wild:
All-time the Devils are 7-2-2-0 when playing the Wild and 3-1-1-0 when playing in Minnesota.
Patrik Elias is the all-time leading scorer for the Devils against the Wild with 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) in 10 games played.
Even though he isn’t the starting goaltender tonight, Johan Hedberg leads all active Devils players with 12 penalty minutes against the Wild.
Martin Brodeur is 7-1-2 in his career against the Wild with a 2.23 GAA.
Projected Devils Lineup:
Parise – Henrique – Kovalchuk
Sykora – Elias – Zubrus
Tedenby – Carter – Clarkson
Boulton – Sestito – Janssen
Greene – Larsson
Talinder – Fayne
Volchenkov – Salvador
Things to Know about the Minnesota Wild:
– The Wild are coming off a 3-2 win over Edmonton on Wednesday.
– The Wild are currently the number one seed in the West and second overall in the NHL.
– Minnesota has won four times when trailing in the third period. The Wild has outscored its opponents 20-16 in the third period. The Wild has eight wins when trailing or being tied after the second period.
Points: Koivu (20), Heatley (15), Setoguchi (13)
Goals: Cullen (8), Setoguchi (8), Clutterbuck (7)
Assists: Koivu (16), Heatley (9), Bouchard (9
+/-: Latendress (+7), Koivu (+6), Stoner (+6)
Projected Wild Lineup:
Setoguchi – Koivu – Heatley
Wellman – Cullen – Bouchard
Johnson – Brodziak – Powe
Gillies – McIntyre – Staubitz
Schultz – Lundin
Zanon – Stoner
Spurgeon – Scandella