The Washington Capitals (27-12-3-57, first in Southeast, second in East), still stinging from last night's 3-0 shut out loss to Columbus, travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens (24-10-6-54, third in East) at 7:00 pm from Bell Centre.
The Caps had their seven-game winning streak broken last night by one of the hottest goalies in the league in 20-year old rookie Steve Mason. It was the second time Mason has shut the Caps out this season. Washington had won 12 of its last 13 games entering play last night, and Montreal has been just as hot, going 8-1-1 in its last 10 games.
Washington owns a pair of wins over Les Habitants this season already, including a 3-0 shut out by Jose Theodore, his only shut out of the season. This will be the third of four regular season matches between the two Eastern Conference foes.
Whether it was the shuffling of the lineup last night, bad luck, or poor matchups, the Caps just did not play very well last night against Columbus, and will want to put up a good showing in the Bell Centre tonight.
Last night was the first game in what promises to be a challenging period for coach Bruce Boudreau. He finally has most of his important players back healthy, and he is now faced with finding ice time for all his players. Two veterans in particular play critical pieces in this puzzle.
Future Hall of Famer Sergei Federov entered the lineup last night after missing several more weeks with a bum ankle. This created a log jam at center, where Boudreau decided that Michael Nylander would be the odd man out against Columbus.
But Fedorov did not make the road trip, and neither did Boyd Gordon, who tweaked his back during last night's pre-game skate. So Nylander and Eric Fehr, the other healthy scratch, are back in.
Boudreau also named Brent Johnson the starter in goal for tonight's game.
WAS: PP-6th (22.4%, 39/174); PK-24th (79.9%, 39/194)
MON: PP-25th (14.7%, 28/191); PK-11th (82.9%, 32/187)
WAS: D John Erskine (Concussion-IR); D Brian Pothier (Concussion-OUT); D Tom Poti (Groin-IR); C Sergei Federov (Ankle-Out); D Jeff Schultz (Undisclosed-OUT); RW Boyd Gordon (Back-OUT)
MON: RW Mathieu Dandenault (Arm-IR); LW Christopher Higgins (Shoulder-IR); RW Georges Laraque (Groin-IR); C Saku Koivu (Foot/ankle-IR); G Carey Price (Lower body-Questionable); LW Alex Tanguay (Shoulder-Out)