Preview: New Jersey at Washington
When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, February 20, 2016
Where: Verizon Center, Washington, District Of Columbia
The Washington Capitals look to add to the best home record in the league when they host their Metropolitan Division-rival New Jersey Devils on Saturday. The Capitals have the most points in the NHL (88) and boast a 21-4-2 mark on home ice after knocking off Los Angeles on Tuesday as part of a 7-1-0 overall surge.
Captain Alex Ovechkin has scored nine goals in his last eight games and has notched 41 points in 39 career contests against New Jersey. While the Capitals are cruising toward the postseason, the Devils have lost two in a row to drop just out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. New Jersey fell to the New York Islanders 1-0 despite a strong effort on Friday and sit one point behind Tampa Bay for the second wild card, but the teams just above the Devils have games in hand. New Jersey has earned points in four of its last six road games (3-2-1).
TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG Plus (New Jersey), CSN-DC (Washington)
ABOUT THE DEVILS (29-23-7): Lee Stempniak tops the team in scoring (40 points) despite coming up empty in four consecutive games while Mike Cammalleri (38) could return soon from an hand injury. Kyle Palmieri scored his team-high 21st goal in the 6-3 loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday and Adam Henrique has 19, including three in his last seven games. Cory Schneider (25 wins) made 23 saves Friday, and coach John Hynes told reporters he was uncertain whether his No. 1 netminder would play on Saturday.
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (42-10-4): While Ovechkin is closing in on his eighth 40-goal season, Evgeny Kuznetzov and Nicklas Backstrom also are having tremendous offensive seasons. Kuznetsov has recorded a team-high 58 points and Backstrom 54 – three more than Ovechkin – while the duo is a combined plus-46. Veteran Justin Williams has experienced a rebirth since signing as a free agent, sitting one away from his fifth 20-goal season and first since 2011-12 with Los Angeles.
1. The Devils are 10-for-28 on the power play in nine games this month.
2. Washington D Taylor Chorney, who is a plus-11 in 45 games, signed a two-year contract extension on Friday.
3. The Capitals have won five straight in the series, including a 3-2 shootout triumph on Feb. 6.
PREDICTION: Capitals 4, Devils 1