National Hockey League
Devils-Capitals Preview
National Hockey League

Devils-Capitals Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 4:18 p.m. ET

As strong as Washington has been this season regardless of environment, it can credit plenty of its massive lead in the Metropolitan Division simply to beating the seven teams it's competing with.

There's also something to be said for a league-best record on home ice, so Saturday night's visit from division foe New Jersey figures to be the Capitals' for the taking.

Washington (42-10-4) is 21-4-2 at home and 15-3-2 against the Metropolitan. The crossover of those two amounts to the Capitals having dropped three points all season on home ice against division foes, albeit in a limited sample size, going 6-1-1 with the lone regulation loss coming back on Oct. 28 to Pittsburgh.

They also boast an NHL-best away mark, which was on display in Thursday's 3-2 overtime win over the New York Islanders. It was their second straight victory heading into a four-game homestand against opponents no higher than fourth in their respective divisions.


Washington has won seven of eight, though game-winning goal scorer Justin Williams said the team isn't thrilled with the on-ice product of late.

"We had seen our game slip lately and it's not all the way back to where it needs to be but we did a lot of good things tonight," said Williams, who also had an assist to give him eight goals and nine assists in his last 16 games after managing 24 points in his first 40 contests with his new club.

"We need to keep having the puck a lot more and lessening the opportunities the other team has and I thought we did a good job of that tonight."

Another multigoal effort from Alex Ovechkin had something to do with it, and the NHL's leading goal scorer has managed 23 in his last 25 games while scoring at least twice six times. Even so, coach Barry Trotz elected to move him to a line with Williams and Evgeny Kuznetsov for the first time.

"You're always thinking about different lines and as coaches we sometimes throw a little bit of spaghetti on the wall," Trotz told the team's official website. "I've got some great people around me, we've got a feel for it and we talk about it all the time, so it was a good change I think for all involved."

The Capitals have won both meetings with the Devils this season as part of a five-game series winning streak in which they've had a 18-8 scoring advantage.

New Jersey (29-23-7) has dropped its last two after Friday's 1-0 home loss to the Islanders, and even when it has won over a 4-4-2 stretch, it's come by slim margins. The Devils have scored three goals twice in that span while averaging 1.60, and the wins have all been by a goal.

"We played a good game," coach John Hynes said. "We're happy with the commitment level we play with and how we play but we have to find a better way to put the puck in the net."

Particularly at even strength. The Devils are 10 for 32 on the power play in the last 10 games with one short-handed goal, so just five have come in 5-on-5 hockey.

That's put pressure on Cory Schneider, and he's responded by posting a 1.78 goals-against average and .937 save percentage over an 8-5-1 span. That includes a shootout loss to Washington as part of an 0-2-2 stretch in the series with 2.72 and .891 marks.

Likely counterpart Braden Holtby has a 1.36 GAA and .949 save percentage on a 7-1-0 run against the Devils, but he hasn't been quite as solid lately over a 3-1-0 span with 3.21 and .890 marks.


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