Capitals Vs Red Wings Preview
Tonight’s match between the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings holds significant playoff implications. Washington is experiencing a three-game losing streak, while Detroit is just outside a wild-card spot.
Alex Ovechkin enters tonight’s game just three goals away from breaking the all-time goalscoring mark and facing his former team again for the first time since being traded to Detroit. Jakub Vrana will appear against Washington for the first time since being sent there in a trade.
1. The Capitals have won the last three meetings.
When Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins collide in the Stanley Cup playoffs, expect an exciting series. These teams have battled it out three times during postseason play – producing some unforgettable contests that have provided fans with memorable moments in hockey history.
In 1991, when these teams first collided for the first time, the Capitals were on the cusp of success under a veteran core led by Michal Pivonka, Dale Hunter, and Dino Ciccarelli, as well as young talents including goaltender Olaf Kolzig and forwards Luc Robitaille and Todd Krygier. Meanwhile, the Pens were the reigning Eastern Conference Champions, enjoying tremendous success after finishing as second best.
The teams split the first two games before Washington took control with back-to-back victories in Pittsburgh to open up a 3-1 advantage, only for Pittsburgh to fight back with two impressive blowout wins – including Sidney Crosby scoring four goals in Game 5. Ultimately, though, even after scoring in the final two games against the Penguins, they fell short of a 3-2 deficit.
One year later, Washington and Pittsburgh would face off again in the second round. After winning the weak Southeast Division with 105 points and upsetting the Columbus Blue Jackets in six games in the first round before being knocked out in seven by Pittsburgh in their eventual championship run, these teams met once more for an excellent seven-game series that showcased some of the most outstanding hockey ever seen in a Stanley Cup playoffs series.
The Capitals took control of this series early, winning Game 1 with a thrilling 3-2 overtime score before building a three-goal advantage at Nassau Coliseum with back-to-back victories in Games 3, 4 and 5. But then came Game 5, when Jaroslav Halak stopped all 139 shots he faced for Pittsburgh 6-2; then in an astounding Game 6, when Jaroslav Halak saved all but one attempt from Washington before falling short 2-1 overtime against them, which was seen as a turning point as they never won another Stanley Cup again after that loss; next season they finished third in their division before finishing third place before bowing out early against Carolina Hurricanes 5 games.
2. The Wings are 1-4-1 in their last six road games.
The Red Wings have struggled on the road this season, losing four straight away from home and going 1-4-1 over their last six games. They must quickly improve their road play if they want a strong playoff run.
On Thursday night, Detroit Wings’ special teams delivered, with Martin Frk scoring on the power play and Michael Rasmussen adding one on penalty kill while Trevor Daley added an empty-net goal with just 2:40 remaining to seal their 4-3 victory at Little Caesars Arena.
The Wings had a bittersweet victory as they honored their 1997 Stanley Cup-winning squad with a video tribute before game time. That group has long been considered a shining light within franchise history and seems to have provided motivational fuel for today’s roster as they seek to return to playoff contention.
Dylan Larkin scored and assisted on two goals for the Detroit Red Wings, while Andrew Copp scored one. Ville Husso made 33 saves.
The Wings struggled early as Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored for them. Detroit’s defense then collapsed during a relentless Caps push. Husso was pulled with 12:41 remaining after being involved in an accidental clash with Erik Condra of Tampa Bay; Jared Coreau took over for the rest of that period.
Larkin led their comeback in the third period with two goals that helped the Wings take back control. He first scored off Adam Erne’s pass to tie the score before scoring again a power-play goal with 7:10 remaining on the clock.
This win marked Detroit’s first since December 23 and ended its nine-game losing streak. Without Tyler Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri on defense and Justin Abdelkader and Sam Reinhart up front, the Capitals were missing center Steven Stamkos and forwards TJ Oshie and Connor Brown up front.
3. The Wings are 1-4-1 in their last five games versus the Capitals.
The Wings have gone winless against Washington since January 2015 and lost in five of six meetings against them at home, but they have an opportunity to turn things around against an old division rival that has been struggling. After an impressive road trip, they will host an opponent that has worked.
The Caps enter this game having lost four out of their last five, most recently to the Rangers 4-2 on Wednesday night. Their current winless streak puts them at risk of dropping out of the top three positions in their division.
Since their recent loss streak began, the Washington Capitals have struggled offensively. Throughout five games, they’ve scored just nine goals at an average of just 1.8 per game, an alarming statistic for any team that relies heavily on scoring goals to compete at the top of their league.
But the Red Wings have also had trouble scoring lately, sitting ninth in the Eastern Conference and only four points away from a wild-card spot. When they play the Washington Capitals on Friday, the Wings hope to improve their offensive output and reach wild-card status.
On Friday night, Detroit will look forward to having Jakub Vrana back in their lineup after calling him up from the minors on Wednesday – his first appearance with Detroit since October! He was instrumental in leading his team’s Stanley Cup run last season and has played a critical role in their turnaround this season. The Red Wings hope he can help address their goal-scoring woes against Washington Capitals. Darcy Kuemper will rely on veteran netminder Darcy Kuemper to keep the Capitals at bay. Recently, he has posted a 7-6-2 record with an outstanding.924 save percentage and 2.25 goals-against average in his eight starts; however, against Red Wings, in particular, he has struggled, so his return could prove challenging.
4. The Wings are 1-4-1 in their last five games versus the Eastern Conference.
On Dec. 19, the Wings last visited Washington and fell 4-3 to the Caps. When these teams meet again this Saturday, they must win to keep playoff hopes alive for both clubs and get one crucial victory to keep winning playoff hopes busy for them both.
Even while missing key players, the Red Wings still scored seven goals over their last three games and are only nine points back of sixth-place Wildcatters. Their win against Panthers was particularly remarkable considering they played without captain Dylan Larkin (cross-checking), forwards Tyler Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri, defenseman Nicklas Backstrom, winger Tom Wilson as well as goalie Dominik Hasek (lower body).
The current squad delivered on a night dedicated to honoring the franchise’s most significant moments.
Beginning with a pregame ceremony to recognize the 1997 Stanley Cup Champions, Little Caesars Arena fans soon joined in a chorus of applause when players took to the ice for the national anthem and didn’t stop cheering until after the final horn was sounded.
Red Wings took until midway through the second period to gain their initial lead of the evening – but they didn’t let it slip away easily. Dominik Kubalik sent a pass directly to David Perron in the right circle, who then put away Darcy Kuemper for an easy goal at 14:58.
At the start of the third, Detroit nearly added another goal, but a call on Adam Erne was overruled as offside. Shortly afterward, Larkin found himself with another opportunity only to see it denied due to Perron interfering with Kuemper’s shot and ruling that no goal was declared.
The Wings could keep their lead throughout, even expanding it in the final minute thanks to an empty-netter from Dylan Larkin. Ville Husso made 33 saves for Detroit; Ville’s Red Wings have lost four out of their last five games; Lucas Raymond leads Detroit with 76% offensive zone starts.