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AAA Keys to the Game: Capitals vs. Canadiens


AAA Keys to the Game: Capitals vs. Canadiens

After a four-day holiday break, the Caps (25-6-2, 52 points) will host the Montreal Canadiens (20-13-3, 43 points) on Saturday at 7 p.m. You can catch all the action on CSN starting with Capitals Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:

Opposite directions: Saturday's game pits two division leaders against one another, but it sure doesn't feel that way. The Caps have won their last six while Montreal has lost its last five and are now clinging to the top of the Atlantic Division by a single point. Advantage Caps, right? Not according to Barry Trotz.

"I just think probably the odds are in their favor," Trotz said. "In this league you go four, five, six games, whatever it is and you're on a winning streak or a losing streak and it sort of changes."

The Price is wrong: Much of Montreal's current problems are due to the injury of superstar goalie Carey Price. The reigning Hart Trophy winner for league MVP has not played since Nov. 25. In that stretch, Montreal has gone 3-9-1. For the season, Price is 10-2-0 with a .934 save percentage and 2.06 GAA. 

Hard hitting: A matchup between the Caps and Canadiens features one of the top scorers in Alex Ovechkin facing one of the top defensemen in P.K. Subban. Whenever these two meet, there are always fireworks like this.

When last we met:The Caps played the Canadiens in Montreal on Dec. 3. In that game, the Caps were outshot 35-19, went 0 for 3 on the power play and were thoroughly outplayed. Of course, they won the game 3-2, but Trotz freely acknowleged it was not their best effort.

"Last time we played this team they really forechecked us really well and we didn't have one of our better games. We ended up winning, but we didn't feel like we won the game."

Holtby was the team's first start that night with 33 saves. The Caps will be looking for a similar outcome, but a better effort.

RELATED: Trotz hopes tough competition will prepare Caps for playoffs

Messing with Montreal: Despite being one of the best teams in the East the past two seasons, the Caps have fared well against their neighbors to the north with a 4-0-2 record in their last six meetings. Holtby is 7-0-2 against Montreal with two shutouts, a 1.40 GAA and .949 save percentage making us all really wish he was playing in the 2010 playoffs. Alex  Ovechkin has 39 points in 37 career games against the Canadiens including the goal that made him the Caps all-time leading scorer on April 2, 2015.

Holiday travel: Because of the holiday, Montreal has some fairly unique travel plans for the trip to Washington. Instead of flying into Washington the night before as teams typically do, the Canadiens instead took their morning skate in Montreal on Saturday, then hopped on a plane to get to Washington. Good thing the weather cooperated. This likely will have no impact on how the Canadiens play, but it is unusual enough to at least note before hand.

Montreal notebook: The Canadiens announced defenseman Tom Gilbert will be re-evaluated for a lower body injury after the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 meaning he will miss the game in Washington. Forward Sven Andrighetto will be scratched for a fourth straight game Saturday. He has four goals in 12 games this season.

Projected lines:


Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams

Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Brooks Laich - Michael Latta - Andre Burakovsky

Nate Schmidt - John Carlson

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner

Dmitry Orlov - Taylor Chorney

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Injured: Brooks Orpik (lower body)

Scratched: Stanislav GalievConnor Carrick


Max Pacioretty – David Desharnais – Dale Weise

Lars Eller – Alex Galchenyuk – Daniel Carr

Tomas Fleischmann – Tomas Plekanec – Paul Byron

Brian Flynn – Torrey Mitchell – Devante Smith-Pelly

Nathan Beaulieu – P.K. Subban

Andrei Markov – Jeff Petry

Alexei Emelin – Greg Pateryn

Mike Condon

Dustin Tokarski

Injured: Carey Price (lower body), Brendan Gallagher (hand), Tom Gilbert (lower body)

Scratched: Jarred TinordiSven Andrighetto

MORE CAPITALS: Caps recall Connor Carrick

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.


The Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime


You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately


Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately

The Caps signed University of North Dakota forward Shane Gersich, a fifth round selection in 2014 and one of the organization’s top prospects, on Friday morning, the team announced.

Gersich, a left shot who is listed at 5-11, 175-pounds, has already joined the team in Montreal, where the Caps play the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday night.

His contract, which begins this season, carries an average annual value of $925,000.

It’s unclear when Gersich will make his NHL debut, but it could happen at some point in the Caps’ final eight games before the playoffs.


NBC Sports Washington has been told that the primary objective for Gersich in the coming weeks is to get his first taste of the NHL by observing—and practicing alongside—his new teammates in Washington. If the opportunity to get him into the lineup presents itself, then it’s possible he’ll suit up.

The 21-year-old just completed his third season at UND. Here are Gersich’s numbers from junior and college, courtesy of


At UND, the smooth-skating and skilled Gersich also produced this memorable goal vs. Denver:

Gersich has been assigned jersey No. 63 in Washington, according to the Caps’ website.

The addition of Gersich and subsequent subtraction of Travis Boyd, who was reassigned to Hershey on Friday morning, leaves the Caps with 14 forwards on the roster.

“I think he did a great job at rookie camp,” Caps GM Brian MacLellan said of Gersich in July. “He was one of our best players, if not the best player, at camp. Really happy about the way he’s progressed and where we picked him. I think Ross Mahoney did a great job with that pick.”