After setting a franchise record for most points through 30 games, the Washington Capitals look to finish off a sweep of their four-game road trip when they face the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night.
The Capitals have won five in a row and their 47 points were tops in the NHL heading into Thursday’s action. They’ll be facing a well-rested Anaheim team that also comes in off a victory over the Kings (4-2) and no doubt may have a little extra motivation for the contest.
Washington skated to a 5-2 victory over Anaheim on Nov. 18 at home in a contest that featured a brawl late in the second period. The end result was Ducks forward Nick Ritchie picking up a game misconduct for being the third man into a fight and Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway receiving a match penalty for spitting on Anaheim defenseman Erik Gudbranson.
“Obviously had a pretty heated game with Anaheim last time,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said. “We’re expecting a battle in their building.”
Hathaway earned a three-game suspension for the spitting incident which he told the Washington Post was “hard to swallow.”
“It was an emotional play by me,” said Hathaway, who has four goals, five assists and a team-high 30 penalty minutes.
“You don’t plan any of that stuff in your head, and it was a quick reaction and unfortunately the wrong one for me to a (Gudbranson) sucker punch.”
It’s been a trip to remember thus far for Capitals defenseman John Carlson, who highlighted his sixth three-point performance of the season with the game-winning goal in Tuesday’s 5-2 victory at San Jose. He followed that up with two first-period goals Wednesday, including another a game-winning tally in a 3-1 win over the Kings.
Carlson’s first goal was the 100th of his career. He hit the 30-game mark with 42 points (11 goals, 31 assists), with Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Orr being the only other defenseman to have accrued more points at the 30-game mark in NHL history.
“I don’t know what to say right now,” captain Alex Ovechkin said. “He’s just the hottest guy out there. Two highlight-reel goals again.”
“It’s early in the season,” Carlson said. “We’ve got a lot of road ahead of us. I think we’ve definitely been happy with the way we’ve started. Just stay focused I think is the big thing. It’s early.”
Washington brings an NHL-best 13-2-1 road mark with it to the Honda Center.
The Ducks are just 2-3-2 in the last seven games but could get two-time All-Star goaltender John Gibson back after he missed Monday night’s win with a virus. He returned to practice on Thursday.
“I think he’s out of the woods now,” Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins told the Orange County Register. “He just had a bad virus that was not kind to him.”
Fellow goaltender Ryan Miller, who has a 4-1-2 record and 2.98 goals-against average this season, had 34 saves in the win over Los Angeles.
“He’s been excellent,” Eakins said. “He’s been super-focused. It’s awesome to have two good goalies.”
–Field Level Media