Carlson, Top Lines look for continued success tonight vs Anaheim
The Washington Capitals host cross-conference foe Anaheim inside Capital One Arena on Monday Night in the middle of a stretch of five games in seven days. The Capitals are coming off a thrilling 3-2 extended shootout win over the Boston Bruins from Saturday. The Ducks, however, ended a seven-game home stand on a five-game losing streak.
Now just over a quarter of the way through the season, Washington (15-3-4) comes into the game as the top team in the NHL. The 34-point leading Capitals have had contributions from all around to have the best starting mark for the franchise in their history.
“The buy-in, and the belief; we talked about it through the first 20 games this year. That’s been a difference maker for me, is our team believes in what we’re doing and if we do it long enough, we’re going to get rewarded,” Capitals head coach Todd Reirden said.
Carlson leading the way for Washington
On the defensive side of the blue line, top Washington defenseman John Carlson will likely continue to lead it in total ice time. Carlson is currently in a three-way tie for the third most points of any player in the NHL with 32. He’s tied with forwards Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak from Boston, who have put the weight of the Bruins on their backs this season. He trails just leaders, forwards Leon Draisaitl (43) and Connor McDavid (40), both of Edmonton.
Heavy top lines the key in Caps’ success
Carlson has eight goals and 24 assists and has helped lead Washington’s top line to nothing but success. Star Alex Ovechkin sits second on the team behind Carlson with 24 points. Fellow top-liners Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson also have 20 and 17 points respectively.
Washington will also bring a heavily talented second line into the contest with Jakub Vrana, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. Each have been heavy lifters in recent games, including, Oshie’s game-tying goal in the Capitals’ last game to set up the shootout.
“We like to have fun at the rink every day and mess around. And sometimes when we get a little lackadaisical with the mental side of the game – we just find a way to refocus pretty quickly,” Oshie said.
Struggling Ducks look for rebound against NHL’s top team on road
For Anaheim (10-9-2), the Ducks have a few roster changes coming into Monday’s game. They’ll see defenseman Jacob Larsson rejoin the lineup after being a healthy scratch against St. Louis in the team’s last game. He has just one goal and one assist in 19 games this season. Meanwhile, defenseman Joshua Mahura will miss the contest after playing a season-low in average ice time over the previous four games.
Furthermore, center Troy Terry is going to be punished as a healthy scratch after being held off the score sheet in the Ducks’ last six games. Right winger Ondrej Kase will replace Terry, but his stats aren’t much better. He also has just one goal and six assists in 16 games this season.
Ryan Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell and Max Jones will lead the top line for Anaheim in the game. The Capitals will have to also watch out for Adam Henrique, Jakob Silfverberg and Nick Ritchie on the second.
Four-guy show for Anaheim
Silfverberg leads the team with 17 points (9 G, 8 A), but he’s just one of four players with double-digit points this season. The tandem of Getzlaf, Rakell and Henrique have 14 points each, but the next most are two men with nine points.
Holtby to face Gibson in search to become shutout leader
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby is expected to square off with Ducks goaltender John Gibson. Gibson is 7-9 this season with a 2.88 goals against average (GAA) and Holtby is 10-1 with a 2.97 GAA.
Holtby is one shutout shy of passing Capitals all-time shutout leader Olaf Kolzig (35) for most shutouts all time. Additionally, Carlson is just two goals away from reaching 100 career goals.
Washington is 17-18-1-1 all time against Anaheim and the Capitals fell to the Ducks 5-2 in California in the team’s last meeting on Feb. 17.
Kayla Morton is a Contributor for the Maryland Sports Blog. She covers the Washington Capitals and Special Events.