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4 things to know for Caps-Coyotes: Richard Panik returns

4 things to know for Caps-Coyotes: Richard Panik returns

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Capitals (13-2-3) just keep on winning. After Saturday’s win over the Vegas Golden Knights, the Caps have won six straight and have points in 11 straight. Ten of those 11 games were wins. Both streaks will be on the line Monday as Washington hosts the Arizona Coyotes (9-6-2). You can catch all the action on NBC Sports Washington with Caps FaceOff Live kicking things off at 6 p.m. before Caps Pregame Live begins at 6:30 p.m. to bring you up to the 7 p.m. puck drop. Stick with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Postgame Live, D.C. Sports Live and Caps Overtime Live.

Here are four things to know for Monday’s game.

Panik is back

Richard Panik will be back in the lineup for the first time since Oct. 16. He suffered an upper-body injury in a collision with Jonas Siegenthaler in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs and landed on LTIR. Monday’s game is the first game in which he could be activated. He has been back for several practices so it is no surprise to see him back in.

Here are the lines from the morning skate:

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Lars Eller - Richard Panik
Brendan Leipsic - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Radko Gudas
Jonas Siegenthaler - Nick Jensen

Hagelin will miss his second game with an upper-body injury. He remains day-to-day.

Samsonov starts

After a hot start, playing time has been a bit limited for Ilya Samsonov whose last start came on Nov. 3. Braden Holtby has started eight of Washington’s last 10 games. With a busy stretch coming up for Washington, it makes sense to get Samsonov a game now.

This means Samsonov will likely play twice this week with a back-to-back coming up Friday and Saturday.

Strength vs. strength

The Caps boast the top offense in the league coming into Monday’s game scoring 4.06 goals per game. The next closest team to them is Nashville at 3.82. Arizona enters this game tied for 2nd in the NHL in defense allowing just 2.41 goals per game.

A slow start for Arizona’s stars

Defense may be the strength of the Coyotes, but they still have offensive weapons such as Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel. Both players, however, are off to slow starts.

Keller has two goals and eight assists. Kessel, meanwhile, was expected to light things up after being reunited with his former assistant coach in Pittsburgh Rick Tocchet. So far he has only three goals and seven assists and two of his three goals came in one game.

Neither Keller nor Kessel have any points in the Coyotes’ last two games.


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John Carlson's six-point week nets him the NHL's first star

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John Carlson's six-point week nets him the NHL's first star

After a sterling week with three goals and three assists in three games, John Carlson was named the NHL's first star for the week of December 2-8.

This isn't the first time this season the NHL has honored Carlson for his stellar efforts. He was named the NHL's first star in October and was the second star of the week for the week of October 14-20.

Two of Carlson's three goals last week were game-winners, and the week included his sixth three-point performance this season.

Carlson currently tops the league's defensemen in goals (11), assists (32), points (43) and game-winning goals (4) through 31 outings this season.

He is also the only Caps player on pace for a 100+ point season.

And that pace is historic. The only two defensemen in NHL history that have recorded as many points through their team’s first 31 games of a campaign are Bobby Orr (5x, most recently in 1974-75: 21-37—58 w/ BOS) and Al MacInnis (1990-91: 13-31—44 w/ CGY).


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Alex Ovechkin saddened by WADA banning Russia from the 2022 Olympic

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Alex Ovechkin saddened by WADA banning Russia from the 2022 Olympic

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Alex Ovechkin's hopes of representing Russia in the 2022 Olympics may already be dashed, not by the NHL, but by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The WADA executive committee handed down a four-year ban to the Russia on Monday, barring the country from competing in all major sporting events subject to the World Anti-Doping Code including the 2020 Summer Olympic Games and the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.

Olympic participation is a major sticking point between the NHL and players and the NHL did not allow players to take part in the 2018 games in PyeongChang, South Korea. Now it appears that even if the players are allowed to go to Beijing, Ovechkin will not be able to fully represent his native country.

“I just heard it today," Ovechkin said. "Obviously, it’s sad news but I think I’m gonna have more information later. It’s bad. I feel bad for people working so hard for this moment and they can’t be there. I just hear it right before practice, so I don’t have much information on it.”

Russia was also banned in 2018, but its athletes were still allowed to compete. They represented a neutral flag and were referred to as the Olympic  Athletes from Russia.

While Ovechkin was certainly disappointed by the news of the ban, he sounded hopeful that there would still be an avenue for him to compete if in fact NHL players would be allowed to go.

"It’s always disappointing to hear something like that," Ovechkin said. "I hope everything’s going to be well. We still have a long time ‘til the Olympics to figure out what to do. What’s better to do. Hope everything’s going to be fine.”

Without any NHL participation, the Olympic Athletes entered the 2018 Olympics favored and did, in fact, take home the gold. Ovechkin said his excitement for cheering on his home nation was not dampened by the fact that they were not able to wear a Russian jersey or represent the Russian flag.

“To be honest with you I just looked at the scores and cheered for our guys," he said. "I didn’t pay too much attention [to] it. I was just happy for our guys scoring goals.”