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Game 74 preview: Washington Capitals @ Ottawa Senators

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A preview of the Sens-Caps game on March 22

Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

The Senators will try to build momentum for no reason after a meaningless-yet-so-enjoyable 5-0 drubbing of the Canadiens. Building won't be easy against the NHL's best regular season team of the past decade, this year's Washington Capitals. The Caps have a 24-point lead atop the NHL with 11 games left to play.

It looks like Ryan Dzingel will continue as the healthy scratch, but Chris Neil is sick and will be a game-time decision. Dion Phaneuf didn't practise, but Bruce Garrioch reports it's just a maintenance day. The only confirmed lineup change from Saturday will be Craig Anderson's return to the net. The presumed lines:

Smith - Pageau - Stone
Hoffman - Zibanejad - Chiasson
Puempel - Gomez - Ryan
Paul - Lazar - Neil

Methot - Karlsson
Phaneuf - Ceci
Kostka - Wideman

Anderson (starter)
Hammond

Meanwhile, here are the Caps' predicted lines, because I like to know my opposition:

Ovechkin - Backstrom - Williams
Burakovsky - Kuznetsov - Oshie
Chimera - Johansson - Beagle
Winnik - Richards - Wilson

Alzner - Niskanen
Orpik - Orlov
Weber - Chorney

Holtby (starter)
Grubauer

Some notes for tonight:

  • The Euge had a lot of telling comments about the Sens' future. You should read the full transcript here.
  • One thing in particular he called out was the choice to have Matt O'Connor start the home opener in his first career professional game. I can think of at least 17 weirder things Dave Cameron has done, but to each their own.
  • Costly night in the Erik Karlsson scoring race, as he failed to pick up a point, dropping into a three-way tie for 4th in the NHL. The good news is that Tyler Seguin will pick up no more points this season. The bad news is that Johnny Gaudreau and Joe Thornton are pushing, threatening to push EK even further down the board.
  • The other guy Karlsson and Seguin are tied with is Evgeny Kuznetsov. Hopefully the Sens can keep him scoreless tonight.
  • The Sens scored three shorthanded goals in a game on Saturday for the fourth time in franchise history. The team has 15 shorties and only 36 on the powerplay this season. The 15 SHGs put them first in the league, five ahead of second place. The 36 PPGs put them 28th.
  • Alex Ovechkin is first in the league in goals with 42. If he finishes first, it'll be the sixth Rocket Richard trophy of his career.
  • With a win tonight, the Caps would clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference. There's a good chance the Sens face them in the last game before they start resting their stars.
  • For their part, the Capitals spent yesterday curling in Carp. Seriously.
  • Hoffman has eight goals, 12 points and 47 shots in 171:15 of power play time while Bobby Ryan has six goals, 15 points and 33 shots in 216:58 of power play time.
  • Karlsson needs five points in nine games to tie his career high in points.
  • Adnan pointed out last game that Alex Chiasson was beating Curtis Lazar in goals. Lazar then scored a shortie out of sheer embarrassment to tie Chiasson. Then Chiasson scored a shortie of his own to move back ahead.

Here are some stats for the two teams tonight. All stats are from NHL.com except Corsi and Fenwick are from www.puckon.net. Note that Corsi is now adjusted for score as well as the venue and event type.

Category Ottawa Washington
Player # Player #
Goals Mike Hoffman 26 Alex Ovechkin
42
Assists Erik Karlsson 60 Evgeny Kuznetsov
53
Points Erik Karlsson 73 Evgeny Kuznetsov
73
Shots Erik Karlsson 222 Alex Ovechkin
350
Average Ice time Erik Karlsson 29:05 Matt Niskanen
24:42

Category Ottawa Washington
# Rank # Rank
Goals For 2.81 5th 3.14 2nd
Goals Against 2.97 27th 2.35 4th
Event, Score and venue adjusted Corsi % 47.8% 22nd 51.7% 11th
Event, Score and venue adjusted Fenwick % 47.4% 23rd 52.4% 8th
Shots For 28.4 27th 30.4 8th
Shots Against 33.2 30th 28.8 8th