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Preview: Ovechkin, Capitals in Denver to battle Avalanche

Colorado looks to extend their winning streak to ten games against the Capitals.

NHL: OCT 19 Avalanche at Capitals Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tonight the Colorado Avalanche welcome the Washington Capitals for an evening contest at Ball Arena. The Avalanche have won nine in a row and are looking to win ten straight for the second time this season. Washington sits in fourth place in the Metropolitan division and just beat the Canadiens 8-4 on Saturday.

Colorado Avalanche

Despite the Florida Panthers winning ten straight games, the Avalanche are still the league’s top point-getting team. They have secured a Central Division and Western Conference title with seven games left in the regular season.

We will likely see some big-name guys begin to get off nights to ensure a fresh and healthy lineup for the playoffs. Speaking of a healthy lineup, the Avalanche expect Nazem Kadri to return to the ice sometime this week, according to Peter Baugh of The Athletic.

Believe it or not, the Avalanche will be playing playoff hockey in less than three weeks. Buckle up, fans. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Projected Lineup

Valeri Nichushkin - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Artturi Lehkonen - JT Compher - Andre Burakovsky
Alex Newhook - Nico Sturm - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Darren Helm - Ben Meyers - Logan O’Connor - Kurtis MacDermid

Cale Makar
Samuel Girard - Josh Manson
Bowen Byram - Jack Johnson (Erik Johnson)

Devon Toewswill take a maintenance night as he’s rumored to be dealing with a nagging injury. I’d be willing to wager his issue stems from his game-saving shot block against the Winnipeg Jets.

Note: Expect to see more of Avalanche signee Ben Meyers as the season ends. Meyers scored a goal in his first game in an NHL sweater Saturday against the Hurricanes.

Washington Capitals

The Capitals come to town having clinched a playoff birth but are still jostling for position inside the Metropolitan standings. They are three points back of the third-place Penguins with two games in hand. They would love to win some games and find themselves out of a wildcard spot. That would mean not matching up with Carolina or Florida in the first round.

Alexander Ovechkin is chasing fifty regular-season goals for the ninth time in his career. The Avalanche will have to stay out of the box and mitigate the chances he has from “Ovi’s Office.”

Projected Lineup

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Conor Sheary
Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - TJ Oshie
Anthony Mantha - Lars Eller - Tom Wilson
Johan Larsson - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway

Martin Fehervary - John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov - Nick Jensen
Trevor Van Riemsdyk - Justin Shultz

Goaltenders

Vitek Vanecek is likely to get the start for the Capitals tonight. Vanecek was selected in the second round by the Capitals back in 2014 and has played thirty-plus games in back-to-back seasons. He comes in with a 2.67 GAA and .909 SV%.

Darcy Kumper will tend Colorado’s net tonight for his 53rd start of the season. Kuemper has slowly but surely climbed the leagues’ statistical ranks and looks to bounce back after giving up four to the Hurricanes on Saturday. Kuemper gave up four goals, but they came off of wild deflections and on the heels of a spectacular save.