The Capitals (39-9-4, 82 points) will look to extend their four-game win streak tonight in St. Paul when they face the struggling Minnesota Wild (23-20-10, 56 points) at Xcel Energy Center (7:30 pregame, CSN+). Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:
No Richards, no Orpik: Caps center Mike Richards, who turned 31 today, will miss his first game due to injury since joining the Capitals. Richards got tangled up in the neutral zone with Predators forward Filip Forsberg early on Tuesday night and managed to stay in the game, logging 9:55 in ice time. With Richards out, look for Stan Galiev to replace him on a fourth line with Brooks Laich and Michael Latta.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik is expected to miss his 38th straight game with a lower body injury. Orpik could return to the lineup on Saturday night against the Dallas Stars. Until then, Dmitry Orlov and Taylor Chorney will remain on the CVaps’ third defense unit.
Where they stand: The Caps have built a 15-point lead over the New York Rangers and have won four in a row following back-to-back losses. The Wild have lost six straight (0-3-3) and 11 of 12.
Goaltending matchup: The Caps will go with Braden Holtby, who is 26-1-3 in his last 30 decisions, while the Wild go with Devan Dubnyk, who has lost his last eight decisions.
Riding Suter: The Wild will be without injured defensemen Jonas Brodin (broken foot) and Jared Spurgeon (deep bruise), which means Mike Reilly and Nate Prosser will make up their third defense pairing. It also means more ice time for Ryan Suter, who ranks second in the NHL behind Erik Karlsson in average ice time with 28:40.
Beyond regulation: While the Caps are 6-4 in games beyond regulation (3-1 in shootouts) the Wild are 1-10 beyond regulation (0-2 in shootouts).
Here are projected lineups for both teams:
Braden Holtby (starter) - Philipp Grubauer
Devan Dubnyk (starter) - Darcy Kuemper
MORE CAPITALS: ESPN projects Holtby to make Canadian WC team but not start