Canadiens at Capitals
The Montreal Canadiens have Andrei Markov healthy for the first time in years and got a pair of goals from the talented defenseman in picking up their first win on Tuesday. The Washington Capitals, who host the Canadiens on Thursday, have struggled with their own blue line in the first two games. The Capitals have been lit up for 10 goals in the two contests and are having more trouble adjusting to their new coach than Montreal.
The Canadiens finished last in the Eastern Conference last season and overhauled the front office and coaching staff in the offseason, bringing back former coach Michel Therrien. But the biggest on-ice change has been the health of Markov, who totaled 65 games over the previous three campaigns. Washington went with a first-time head coach in Adam Oates and has allowed five power-play goals already.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, RDS (Montreal), CSN (Washington)
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (1-1-0): Montreal is counting on the health of Markov’s twice-surgically repaired right knee, especially with P.K. Subban still unsigned. After putting 22 shots on goal in a 2-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the season opener, the Canadiens registered 33 shots against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday and made the most of the increased opportunities. Markov scored twice on the power play and 18-year-old rookie Alex Galchenyuk scored his first career goal. Montreal’s area of weakness has been on the penalty kill as it has yielded three power-play goals in the first two contests.
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (0-2-0): Washington was booed by its home fans in the 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, and Alex Ovechkin has yet to score a goal. Oates did not have a long training camp during which to implement his system and questioned his team’s energy after the setback. The Capitals are breaking in new players on the top two lines and have moved Ovechkin over to right wing. Ovechkin helped set up a goal from that spot against the Jets but only has gotten off eight shots on goal in the two contests. The superstar came into the season averaging 5.1 shots over his career. Washington has been even worse on the penalty kill than the Canadiens, allowing five goals in 12 short-handed situations.
1. Ovechkin has recorded 14 goals and 28 points in 27 career games against the Canadiens.
2. Galchenyuk was the first 18-year-old to score for Montreal in 28 years.
3. Washington has taken six straight in the all-time series, winning five by at least two goals.