By Glynn Cosker
DCpuckDrop Managing Editor
Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning
Date: Monday, October 9, 2017
Time: 7.30 PM EDT
Venue: Amalie Arena, Tampa.
TV: SUN, NBCSWA
The Washington Capitals (2-0-0) face the Tampa Bay Lightning (1-1-0) Monday night at Amalie Arena. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is looking to make history by becoming the first ever player to score three consecutive hat tricks to start an NHL season. The record for goals by a single player through the first three games of an NHL season is nine – so two goals tonight from Ovechkin will tie that mark set by Joe Malone of the Montreal Canadiens and Reg Noble of the Toronto Arenas all the way back in the NHL’s inaugural 1917-18 season. The on-fire Russian’s tally of seven goals is more goals than 21 NHL teams have scored so far this term.
That history making third consecutive hat trick may not be all that elusive for Ovechkin given that he has 83 points (41 goals, 42 assists) in 63 regular-season games against Tampa Bay – which is the second-most goals and points he has against any team in the league.
The Capitals are 3rd in the NHL for goals-per-game (5) and 9th in the NHL for goals against (2.50 GAA). It’s early days in the 2017-18 season, but the Capitals also haven’t allowed a single goal while on the penalty kill. Ovechkin is tied for the Capitals points total (7) along with center Evgeny Kuznetsov – who is expected to have the best season in his young career. In goal, Braden Holtby was impressive during the first two games and pulled off an incredible stop in his team’s 6-1 thrashing of the Montreal Canadiens. However, backup Philip Grubauer is expected to start tonight.
The Lightning have let in eight goals over their first two games which is an ominous stat when Ovechkin is coming to town.
“Ultimately, in this league, if you want to be a playoff team, you can’t be giving up four goals a night, and that’s what we’re doing right now,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper after his team’s loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday.
Tampa Bay’s talisman forward Steven Stamkos has yet to score a goal over his team’s two games, although he has recorded four assists. Starting goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has a save percentage of .905 with backup Peter Budaj waiting in the wings.
Capitals Projected Lineup
Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Jakub Vrana
Andre Burakovsky — Nicklas Backstrom — T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly — Lars Eller — Alex Chiasson
Nathan Walker — Jay Beagle — Devante Smith-Pelly
Dmitry Orlov — Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik — John Carlson
Aaron Ness — Taylor Chorney
Scratched: Christian Djoos, Tom Wilson, Tyler Graovac
Lightning Projected Lineup
Vladislav Namestnikov — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Yanni Gourde
Alex Killorn — Tyler Johnson — Gabriel Dumont
Chris Kunitz — Cedric Paquette — Ryan Callahan
Victor Hedman — Jake Dotchin
Mikhail Sergachev — Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn — Dan Girardi
Scratched: J.T. Brown, Slater Koekkoek, Andrej Sustr
Injured: Erik Condra (back)