NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, November 9th
(All times Eastern)
Washington Capitals (9-7-0) at Phoenix Coyotes (11-4-2), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Struggles on the penalty kill led to the Phoenix Coyotes
having a five-game winning streak snapped last time out.
They know they can't make the same mistake on Saturday night against Alexander
Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, owners of the league's top power play.
The Coyotes yielded a pair of power-play goals in Wednesday's 5-2 loss to the
Anaheim Ducks, including the game-tying tally while down two men late in the
second period. That goal seemed to really shift the momentum as the Ducks went
ahead for good on a goal with just 1.1 seconds to go in the middle frame.
Mike Smith made 24 saves and both Michael Stone and Shane Doan scored for a
Phoenix club that was on its longest winning streak of the season and was
coming off three straight shootout games. However, the Coyotes failed to
contain a Ducks power play that ranks near the bottom of the league.
"You can't win a game in this league if you are going to turn the puck over
and be undisciplined," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "We knew it was going
to be a hard game. It was a great test for our team to see how we reacted and
we didn't play well enough, we didn't play disciplined enough to win."
Tippett will need his club to stay out of the box tonight. Washington ranks
first in the NHL on the power play at 28.1 percent and Ovechkin tops the
league with seven goals on the man advantage.
Phoenix could also be without Radim Vrbata after the forward left Wednesday's
game with a lower-body injury. He has netted six goals on the year and is tied
for the club lead with 13 points. Vrbata is expected to be a game-time
decision along with defenseman Derek Morris.
However, blueliner David Schlemko and center Jeff Halpern could both return to
the lineup tonight. Schlemko has missed four straight games with a lower-body
injury, while Halpern has been out the past five with an upper-body issue.
The Coyotes are 7-0-1 at home and host a Capitals club that won for the fourth
straight time with Thursday's 3-2 shootout win over Minnesota. Ovechkin scored
his 13th goal of the season, on the power play no less, and Marcus Johansson
potted a game-tying goal with 3:08 left in regulation, one that earned praise
from head coach Adam Oates after Johansson's shot hit off a Minnesota defender
and across the goal line.
"What I like about the tying goal is it took a lot of hard work," Oates said.
"We fought through a lot of frustration because they were giving you nothing.
It was hard to get shots to the net."
Nicklas Backstrom then had the lone goal of the shootout, which stood up after
Braden Holtby made a save on Minnesota's Charlie Coyle. Holtby finished with
Following a perfect three-game homestand, the Capitals play two straight and
three of their four on the road. Saturday will mark the first game for forward
Jason Chimera since he signed a two-year, $4 million contract extension on
Chimera has posted five goals and six assists in 16 games this season.
The Capitals have won five of their past eight versus the Coyotes, including
two straight at home. Holtby has never faced them.
Smith is winless in his career against Washington, going 0-6-0 with a 5.03
goals against average in seven games.
11/09 10:49:59 ET