The Washington Capitals attempt to finish with a perfect record at home this month when they host the Metropolitan Division-rival New Jersey Devils on Saturday. The Capitals have won each of their first seven contests at Capital One Arena in December, including Thursday’s 4-3 shootout triumph over Boston.
Captain Alex Ovechkin ended a four-game drought by scoring his league high-tying 24th goal in regulation and netted the lone tally in the bonus format as Washington overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits after being shut out in each of its previous two contests. New Jersey nearly finished with a perfect mark on its six-game homestand but squandered a 3-1 lead on Friday and dropped a 4-3 overtime decision against Buffalo. Despite the disappointing ending, the Devils continued to earn points as they have gone 6-0-2 over their last eight overall games. Miles Wood scored his 10th goal, giving New Jersey five players with double-digit totals this season.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG Plus (New Jersey), NBCSN Washington
ABOUT THE DEVILS (22-9-6): Marcus Johansson, who spent his first seven seasons in the NHL with Washington, scored on Friday to pull within two points of 300 for his career. Taylor Hall leads New Jersey with 36 points but was kept off the scoresheet by Buffalo after recording a goal and four assists over his previous three games. Travis Zajac, who has registered only two points - both goals - in 20 contests this season, is slated to appear in his 800th career game on Saturday.
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (23-13-3): Evgeny Kuznetsov appeared in his 300th NHL contest on Thursday and celebrated by notching an assist. The 25-year-old Russian leads Washington with 39 points - one more than Ovechkin. Nicklas Backstrom has scored only seven goals this season and needs five more to reach 200 for his career.
1. Capitals C Lars Eller recorded a goal and an assist against Boston, leaving him two points shy of 200 for his career.
2. New Jersey has gone 25-for-27 on the penalty kill over its last nine games.
3. The next victory for Washington’s Barry Trotz will move him past Lindy Ruff (736) for fifth place on the all-time coaching list.
PREDICTION: Capitals 3, Devils 2