The Capitals (56-17-8, 120 points) face their former coach Bruce Boudreau and the Anaheim Ducks (45-25-11, 101 points) in the final game of the regular season on Sunday at Verizon Center (coverage starting at 7:00 p.m. on CSN). Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:
When last we met: The Caps snapped the Ducks' 11-game winning streak on March 7 with a shootout win in Anaheim. Ryan Getzlaf scored on the Ducks' first shot of the game just 60 seconds in, but Braden Holtby turned aside the next 27 shots he faced. Andre Burakovsky tied the game in the third period to force the shootout.
What's at stake: For the Caps, nothing but health. They will finish with the top record in the NHL and play the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the playoffs regardless of the result. Anaheim, however, has a chance to win their division. The Ducks trail Los Angeles by one point in the Pacific. The Kings have the edge in the ROW tiebreaker so the Ducks will need a win over the Caps to capture the division crown.
Snow day: Sunday's game was originally scheduled to be played in Washington on Jan. 22 but was postponed due to the "Snowmageddon" that hit the area that weekend. The NHL season was originally scheduled to end around the league on Saturday but this game was tacked onto the end as well as Philadelphia's game against the Islanders which was also postponed.
Health over history: Philipp Grubauer will get the start in net even after Braden Holtby tied Martin Brodeur's win record on Saturday with 48 wins for the season. Head coach Barry Trotz has been adamant over the past week that Grubauer and Holtby would split the final back-to-back of the season and it appears he will not waver from that decision despite Holtby's chance to make history.
"Why put our player at risk?" Trotz said. "You see a number of players have gone down in their last game around the league. [Holtby] shares a record. I think the bigger plan is about what we want to do as a team. He's too important to put at risk for individual glory so we're not doing that."
1000 for Williams: The Caps will hold a pre-game ceremony to honor Justin Williams. Williams played in his 1,000th NHL game on Saturday in St. Louis. NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Jim Gregory will be on hand to present Williams with a commemorative crystal from the NHL, the Caps will present Williams with a silver stick and he will also receive a special gift from his teammates. Williams is the 304th player in NHL history to play 1,000 games.
When asked how he believe Williams had made it to this point in his career, Trotz said "Staying productive, staying fairly healthy and playing a number of games at a very high level. And obviously he's won some championships which we'd love to do around here."
Beagle update and lineup changes: Jay Beagle left Saturday's game in St. Louis after blocking a puck with his leg/foot. Trotz called him day-to-day and would not elaborate. He also would not specify what the line changes would be for Sunday's game. He did say, however, that "Some guys haven't played, they will play tonight. There will be some changes."
As cryptic as that is, it's hard to put together any projected lines. What this most likely means is that Nate Schmidt, Taylor Chorney, Michael Latta and Stanislav Galiev will all be in the lineup. Earlier Sunday, the Caps also recalled Zach Sill from Hershey though it is unclear if he will play.