The Colorado Avalanche try to snap a six-game losing streak against Washington when they host the Capitals on Thursday with two players acquired in the Matt Duchene trade set to make their home debuts. The Pepsi Center crowd will welcome defenseman Samuel Girard and Vladimir Kamenev, who is expected to center a line with fellow Russian Nail Yakupov and Sven Andrighetto.
The disgruntled Duchene demanded to be traded and after months of speculation, Colorado general manager Joe Sakic pulled off a blockbuster three-team deal involving Nashville that sent Duchene to Ottawa on Nov. 5. ”The guys in the room were waiting for it to happen,‘’ Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson told the Denver Post. '‘We all want to play for this team and win in Denver. He wanted to go somewhere else. Now we have a group in this room that will all be pulling the same rope in the same direction.‘’ Washington is coming off a lackluster 6-3 loss at Nashville on Tuesday but is 5-2-0 in its last seven games after a 5-6-1 start. The Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin, who is 22nd all-time with 571 goals, hasn’t scored in three games and has six in 17 contests since exploding for seven in his first two outings of the season.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, NBCSN Washington, Altitude (Colorado)
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (10-8-1): T.J. Oshie has three goals in his last three games and nine this season - second-most to Ovechkin on the club - after scoring twice Tuesday while Evgeny Kuznetsov boasts a team-high 20 points. Defenseman Matt Niskanen, who missed 13 games with an upper-body injury, returned to the lineup Tuesday and played 20 minutes, 33 seconds. Braden Holtby (10-4-0, 2.68 goals-against average, .918 save percentage) is expected to start after stopping 19 of 25 shots and getting pulled after two periods Tuesday.
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (8-7-1): Girard, 19, who was acquired from Nashville, played on the top pairing with Johnson in his first two games with Colorado, both losses to Ottawa in the NHL Global Series in Stockholm on Friday and Saturday. Kamenev was assigned to San Antonio of the American Hockey League following the trade, and had four assists in four games as he is set to play his third NHL game after appearing twice for the Predators last season. Rookie center Alexander Kerfoot, who essentially took Duchene’s place as one of the Avalanche’s top two centers, has a team-high seven goals - four in the last three games - while center Nathan MacKinnon owns a club-most 15 points after his five-game point streak (four goals, six assists) was halted Saturday.
1. Capitals D Christian Djoos left Tuesday’s contest with an upper-body injury and is expected to miss Thursday’s game.
2. The Avalanche are 7-for-20 on the power play over the last six games while Washington has killed 15 of 16 penalties in the past five contests.
3. The Capitals have won 12 of their last 14 games after allowing five or more goals in the previous contest.
PREDICTION: Capitals 3, Avalanche 2