Capitals-Canucks Preview

The Washington Capitals are not in much of a fight for the

Southeast Division lead, but they’re definitely not afraid to

defend each other.

With defenseman Mike Green expected back in the lineup after

getting helped off the ice in their last game, the Capitals

continue their four-game trip against the Vancouver Canucks on

Friday night.

Washington (21-7-6), which has won eight of 10 and owns the

largest division lead by far in the NHL, improved to 1-1-0 on its

trip with a 6-1 victory over Colorado on Tuesday. The Capitals led

5-0 late in the second period when Green was checked from behind by

Avalanche forward David Koci.

“I couldn’t see him, so it must have been from behind,” said

Green, who did not return after receiving several stitches over his

left eye. “He’s a big guy and he has to be more careful.”

While the Capitals and coach Bruce Boudreau are hoping the

league disciplines Koci for the hit, Capitals defenseman John

Erskine went after Koci and tried to deliver immediate

punishment.

“You’ve got to stand up for your teammate,” said Erskine, who

picked up a fighting major and a misconduct.

Washington bounced back after squandering a two-goal

first-period lead in a 6-3 loss in Toronto on Saturday. Tomas

Fleischmann and Mike Knuble gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead after 20

minutes Tuesday before Washington scored three unanswered goals in

the second period.

“We knew if we didn’t keep playing like we did in the first

period, it might end up like last game,” said Fleischmann, who

scored twice against the Avs and recorded six goals and three

assists in his last seven games.

Nicklas Backstrom, who leads the Capitals with 28 assists and 39

points, plays his first game at GM Place since being selected

fourth overall there in the 2006 draft.

“It was great moment,” Backstrom said. “(Alex Ovechkin) Ovie was

calling my name on the stage.”

Ovechkin, the reigning two-time MVP, has two goals and two

assists in three career games against Vancouver (19-15-10). He did

not record a point in the last meeting, a 5-1 Capitals home win

Oct. 13, 2008, that was the Canucks’ first loss in six games to

Washington.

Despite two assists from Sami Salo and Henrik Sedin’s

team-leading 15th goal, Vancouver had its three-game winning streak

snapped in a 3-2 loss to Anaheim on Wednesday. The Canucks managed

two shots on goal in the first period, but Roberto Luongo made 13

of his 31 saves in the opening 20 minutes as the period ended in a

1-all tie.

“We totally got outplayed,” said coach Alain Vigneault, whose

team is 3-1-0 on an eight-game homestand. “We were very fortunate

that our goaltender brought his ‘A’ game. He kept us in.”

Luongo, expected to start Friday, won 10 straight starts versus

the Capitals prior to the Oct. 13 loss.

Jose Theodore, 4-1-0 with a 2.19 GAA in his last five games,

will likely get the start in net for Washington. He went 5-0-0 with

a 1.98 GAA in his last five games against Vancouver.

Sedin and identical twin brother Daniel each have a nine-game

point streak going. Henrik Sedin has a goal and 14 assists during

that stretch while Daniel has six goals and seven assists.

Ovechkin recorded a goal and an assist in the Capitals’ last

visit to Vancouver – a 3-2 shootout loss Oct. 27, 2006.