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Reply To: NHL • Thursday Service Plays • 12/3/15

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Preview: Washington at Montreal

When: 7:30 PM ET, Thursday, December 3, 2015

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec

The Montreal Canadiens own the best overall and home record in the NHL, but they will face one of the league’s hottest teams when the Washington Capitals pay a visit Thursday night. The Canadiens are 2-0-1 since Carey Price suffered an injury that will sideline him at least six weeks and have earned points in five of their last six games (5-0-1).

Rookie Mike Condon continues to make a strong impression on his teammates after stopping 22 shots in a 2-1 victory over Columbus on Tuesday to improve to 9-2-3. “(Condon) comes out, he plays the puck, he’s so calm back there,” Montreal forward Dale Weise said. “He’s a lot like Carey in his positioning and we’ve got a ton of confidence in him.” Goaltender Braden Holtby has been in net for each contest during Washington’s five-game winning streak and has won seven consecutive starts. Holtby was named the NHL’s Second Star of the Month after posting a 9-2-0 mark with a 1.99 goals-against average in November.

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, CSN Washington, RDS (Montreal)

ABOUT THE CAPITALS (17-5-1): Forward Justin Williams, who spent the previous six-plus seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, continues to mesh with Washington by scoring five goals in his last nine games. “He’s starting to play more and more the way we play and a little less like the way L.A. plays,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s getting comfortable with the system, and he’s getting comfortable with his linemates, and I think he’s comfortable with his role on the team.” Washington’s No. 2-ranked power play is 6-for-9 over the past three games.

ABOUT THE CANADIENS (19-4-3): Captain Max Pacioretty scored with 2:09 to play in regulation to lift Montreal over Columbus, giving him a league-best 24 game-winning goals since the start of the 2013-14 season. “It seems like it’s been a trend for us this year whenever we get those opportunities late in the game and we find ways to get it done, and (Pacioretty) stepped up and scored a big goal,” Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban said. Coach Michel Therrien is keeping Pacioretty paired with David Desharnais and Weise after juggling his lines Tuesday.

OVERTIME

1. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has 22 goals and 38 points in 36 games versus Montreal.

2. Pacioretty has scored only two goals in 20 games against Washington.

3. Holtby is 6-0-2 with a 1.33 goals-against average versus Montreal.

PREDICTION: Canadiens 4, Capitals 3