Capitals at Devils
The Washington Capitals have won the Presidents' Trophy for posting the league's best regular-season two years running but they are staring up at a surprise leader in the Metropolitan Division. Superstar Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals look to avoid a third consecutive defeat when they visit the undefeated New Jersey Devils on Friday night.
The Devils finished last in the Metropolitan in 2016-17 -- 48 points behind Washington -- but they are the lone unbeaten team in the Eastern Conference after handing Toronto its first setback with a 6-3 road win Wednesday night. "It's important for us to come in and play a team like this and find a way to win the game," New Jersey coach John Hynes said after knocking off the Maple Leafs. "I think it's a confidence-builder." The Capitals are coming off a 3-2 home loss to defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh despite Ovechkin's eighth goal in four games. Washington went 3-0-1 last season against the Devils, limiting them to a combined five goals in the four matchups.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN Washington, MSG-Plus (New Jersey)
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (2-1-1): Ovechkin has scored at least 50 goals seven times but he's off to the fastest start of his career and matched the NHL record for the most goals in the first four games of a season. Rookie defenseman Christian Djoos had a memorable NHL debut by scoring his first goal and setting up Ovechkin's latest tally. "That wasn't my plan really when I showed up at the rink," Djoos said. "I was going to play good and play a structured game and detailed game, but happy with the goal and the assist."
ABOUT THE DEVILS (3-0-0): New Jersey scored the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference last season, but already has amassed 16 tallies -- the second-highest three-game total in franchise history behind the 1991-92 team. Cory Schneider had the worst season of his career a year ago but was superb in a 47-save performance against high-scoring Toronto. “We had two solid wins before this but this was a really good test, not that the other two weren’t," Schneider said. "For us to come into their building and match them was important."
1. Ovechkin is the seventh player in the modern era and fifth in the expansion era to score eight goals in the first four games.
2. Schneider stopped 41 of 42 shots in two appearances (one start) versus Washington last season.
3. Capitals RW Tom Wilson will rejoin the lineup after serving a four-game suspension.