The Capitals (21-4-5) will look for its first ever California sweep as they take on the Anaheim Ducks (12-12-4) on Friday. Check out all the action on NBC Sports Washington Plus starting with Caps FaceOff Live at 9 p.m. and Caps Pregame Live at 9:30 p.m. bringing you up to the 10 p.m. puck drop. Stick with NBC Sports Washington Plus after the game for postgame coverage on Caps Postgame Live.
Here's what you need to know for Friday's game.
Things got heated the last time they played
The Caps and Ducks last played on Nov. 18 in a game the Caps won 5-2, but no one remembers that. What people do remember is the wild brawl that broke out in the second period. Brendan Leipsic had had enough of the Ducks so he crushed Derek Grant with an open-ice, clean hit at the goal line that immediately erupted into a line brawl. There was a total of 55 penalty minutes doled out from that sequence alone. Most notably, Garnet Hathaway was ejected and given a match penalty for spitting on Erik Gudbranson.
You think these teams remember that game?
Sometimes in games like these, the media can build it up and then the puck drops and...nothing happens. That's especially true when it's two teams from different conferences. The bad blood just does not carry over for too long when it comes to a team you barely see. In this case, however, this game was not that long ago and the spitting incident is something that I can guarantee you neither team has forgotten. This should be fun to watch.
Still no Backstrom
Based on the morning skate it appears Nicklas Backstrom will not play in Anaheim. This will mark the eighth straight game he has missed.
Here are the lines from the morning skate:
Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Lars Eller - T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin - Travis Boyd - Richard Panik
Brendan Leipsic - Nic Dowd - Garnet Hathaway
Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Nick Jensen
Jonas Siegenthaler - Radko Gudas
The Caps have a massive power play advantage
If there are a lot of fisticuffs in this one, that would seem to benefit the Caps more than Anaheim. Washington boasts the fifth-best power play in the NHL at 24.2-percent. The Ducks' power play is, in a word, terrible, clicking at only 11.3-percent (29th in the NHL). The Caps are a team that tends to take far too many penalties on a good night and this one...may not be a good night. But if both teams keep heading to the box Washington is far more likely to take advantage of its power play opportunities than Anaheim.
This would be the first California sweep for Washington
With wins in San Jose and Los Angeles already, the Caps will be looking for their first-ever California sweep. Washington has never beaten all three teams on the road in a season in franchise history. If you tack on that first game in Detroit as well, a win on Friday would also mark just the second time the Caps have ever swept a four-game road trip.
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