The Washington Capitals will aim to continue their run of good fortune in Montreal on Saturday night when they oppose the Canadiens.
The Capitals (41-23-10, 92 points) improved to 16-1-2 in their past 19 trips to Montreal with a 5-2 win over the Canadiens on Feb. 10.
The dominance in Montreal may provide a comforting feeling for the Capitals after they lost 7-3 in Toronto on Thursday. The setback snapped Washington’s four-game overall winning streak and a five-game successful run on the road.
“You just got to forget about this one and put it aside and focus on the next one,” Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said after the loss to the Maple Leafs. “Every game we are playing right now are big games.”
The Capitals, who have eight games remaining, reside five points behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan Division and three in back of the Boston Bruins for the top wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins have six games left on their slate while the Bruins have eight.
The Capitals, however, currently have a strong hold on the second wild-card spot in the East, with a 13-point lead over the third-place New York Islanders.
Washington’s Nic Dowd joined Toronto native Tom Wilson and defenseman John Carlson in scoring a goal on Thursday. Dowd, who is one point shy of 100 for his seven-year career, collected a goal and an assist in Washington’s 6-3 romp over Montreal on Nov. 24.
“We’re going to Montreal knowing that we’re going to be playing a very fast, young team,” Dowd said. “They have nothing to lose. It’s going to be a big game. We need to be emotionally ready to start the game right away.”
Wilson is riding a four-game point streak (three goals, two assists) and has 11 points (six goals, five assists) in his past 11 games. He scored a goal in both encounters against the Canadiens this season.
Washington captain Alex Ovechkin, however, saw his five-game point streak (four goals, three assists) end on Thursday. The three-time Hart Trophy recipient notched three assists in the November meeting with Montreal before sitting out the February matchup due to COVID-19 protocol.
While the Capitals are keeping tabs on the standings, the Canadiens (20-44-11, 51 points) likely ceased doing that long ago. They dropped a 3-0 decision to the visiting Islanders on Friday, giving them their first four-game losing streak under interim coach Martin St. Louis.
Montreal, however, received a boost from the return of Carey Price.
The 34-year-old goalie made 17 saves in his first appearance since Game 5 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. The former Hart and Vezina Trophy recipient had arthroscopic knee surgery in July to repair a torn meniscus and entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program for substance abuse on Oct. 7.
“We’ll listen to Carey,” St. Louis said when asked how many games Price might play before the end of season. “If Carey wants to play, he’s going to play.”
St. Louis, however, said Price wouldn’t likely play Saturday in the second half of a back-to-back set.
Sam Montembeault probably will make his fourth start in five games. He has dropped five straight decisions (0-4-1) since recording 27 saves in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on March 13.
–Field Level Media