The Capitals (52-15-5, 109 points) will visit the New Jersey Devils (36-31-7, 79 points) tonight at Prudential Center (6:30 p.m., CSN, Pregame Live). Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:
Who’s in goal: Braden Holtby (44-9-4, 2.25 GAA, .921 SP) will make his 60th appearance of the season tonight. He is four wins away from tying Marty Brodeur’s NHL record of 48 victories. The Devils will go with Scott Wedgewood (2-0-0, 0.50, .985), who pitched a 39-save, 3-0 shutout against the Penguins Thursday night.
Where the Caps stand: The Caps can move one step closer to clinching the Presidents’ Trophy with a win tonight. A win by the Caps and a loss on Saturday by the Dallas Stars would clinch the top seed in the playoffs for the Caps.
Where the Devils stand: The Devils are six points out of a playoff spot with eight games to play. New Jersey has won two in a row and five of seven (5-2-0).
Carlson returns: Defenseman John Carlson will return to the Caps lineup for the first time since aggravating a lower body injury on Feb. 24 against Montreal. He’s expected to be paired with Nate Schmidt, leaving a third pairing of Brooks Orpik and Dmitry Orlov.
Oshie out: T.J. Oshie will miss his first game as a Capital with what coach Barry Trotz described as a flu bug. Oshie did not practice on Thursday and is hoping to be back in the lineup when the Caps face his former team, the St. Louis Blues, Saturday night at Verizon Center. With Oshie out, Stan Galiev will play right wing on a fourth line with center Mike Richards and left wing Daniel Winnik.
Caps vs. Devils: The Caps have won all three meetings this season and are looking for their first-ever season sweep of the Devils. The Caps have won six in a row against New Jersey. Oddly enough, in the Caps’ three wins over the Devils this season Brooks Orpik is a plus-5, while Karl Alzner is a minus-4.
500 for Alzner: Karl Alzner will be playing in his 500th NHL game and his 448th game in a row. “Most players have two goals: the Cup and one thousand games. I’m happy to be halfway there, but I feel like I’ve been playing forever and I’m only at 500. It’s crazy to think a guy like ‘Stick’ is almost at a thousand.” ‘Stick’ is Justin Williams, who will be playing in his 991st NHL game. If Williams plays in each of the Capitals’ final 10 games, he’ll reach 1,000 in the season finale on April 10. (So you can bet he won’t be rested down the stretch).
Dynamic duo: Braden Holtby (44 wins) and Alex Ovechkin (43 goals) are the eighth set of teammates who have recorded 43 wins and 43 goals in the same season. The last were Sharks teammates Evgeny Nabokov (44 wins) and Patrick Marleau (44 goals).
Road warriors: The Caps can set a franchise record with a road win tonight. Their 24 road wins are tied with the 2009-10 Capitals.
Braden Holtby (starter) - Philipp Grubauer
Scott Wedgewood (starter) - Keith Kinkaid
Scratched: Seth Helgeson
Injured: Cory Schneider (right knee), Jon Merrill (upper body), David Schlemko (upper body), Tyler Kennedy (lower body), Jacob Josefson (hand), Jordin Tootoo (upper body), Patrik Elias (right knee), Mike Cammalleri (right hand/wrist), Jiri Tlusty (right wrist).
MORE CAPITALS: Prospect Report: Hershey drops to second in their division