Montreal Canadiens v Washington Capitals

Ovechkin returns to Capitals lineup against Canadiens

After a two-game absence due to a groin injury, Alex Ovechkin returns to the Washington Capitals’ lineup tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. That’s according to the Washington Post just a few minutes ago.

Ovechkin leads the league in goals by a large margin with 35. The next closest to him is Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks with 28.

Goals have been scarce of late for the struggling Capitals, who are looking to end a seven-game losing streak. During this skid, the Capitals have scored only eight goals.

Mikhail Grabovski will not play for Washington tonight, according to the Washington Post.

He suffered what appeared to be a leg injury after an awkward fall in Friday’s loss to the New Jersey Devils. He left Friday’s game as a result of the injury and did not return.

‘It’s adversity’: Canadiens lose third straight

Montreal Canadiens v Detroit Red Wings

The Montreal Canadiens have been fading recently in the Atlantic Division standings, as they look to find their way out of a current three-game losing streak.

The Canadiens lost by a final score of 4-1 to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday, making it three consecutive losses and four in the last five games. Friday’s loss comes two days after the Canadiens were trounced in Pittsburgh. This time, no attempted goalie fights.

However, it wasn’t a spectacular night for goalie Carey Price, who gave up four goals on 26 shots. Price, named to Canada’s Olympic team earlier this month, has just one win in his last five starts, and has given up 20 goals in that span.

The Habs are still third in the division, but trail both the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning by six points.

“It’s adversity,” Habs’ forward Brendan Gallagher said, as per the Montreal Gazette.

“Every team I’ve ever been on, regardless of the level, has experienced adversity. What makes a good team is how you get through it. Right now, we’re talking about the little details. Some nights we show improvement but then we have little breakdowns. But everyone in this room still has confidence.”

Subban ‘not too worried’ about Montreal’s power play woes

P.K. Subban

Things haven’t been going well on the power play of late for the Montreal Canadiens.

In their past five games, the Habs have gone 0-for-17 with the man advantage and, as you’d expect, this is a big problem for the fans there.

Everyone can relax though, P.K. Subban says everything will turn around as Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette shares.

“Every team goes through this,” said defenseman P.K. Subban, who leads Montreal with 15 power-play points. “I’m not too worried about it. I think that we’re moving the puck well, we’re creating opportunities. This time of year, it’s tough because teams are bearing down. We need a bounce here or there, but our power play has always been good and it’s going to continue to be good. Right now, we just have to continue to do the right things. The puck’s not going in for us, but it will.”

The power of positive thinking compels you, P.K. On the upside, they’re hitting the road and have a pair of the poorer penalty killing teams on the schedule with Ottawa (20th) and Toronto (27) coming up. On the downside, they’ve also got games against two of the better kills in the league in Pittsburgh (1) and Detroit (6).

If the Habs return home still struggling on the power play, those two minutes of attack time might get really awkward.

Goalie nods: Bishop back for Bolts, Brodeur starts in Montreal

Ben Bishop
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News and notes from around the crease…

Ben’s back

Ben Bishop will play for the first time in four games when the Lightning take on the Rangers at MSG tonight.

Bishop, who is 22-5-3 with a 1.86 GAA and .935 save percentage, was sidelined with a wrist injury and backed up last night as the Bolts lost 3-2 in Columbus.

For New York, Henrik Lundqvist will look for his fourth straight win. He stopped 37 of 38 shots in a stellar 4-1 victory over the Flyers on Sunday.

Au revoir, Marty?

Martin Brodeur could be playing his last game in Montreal tonight when the Devils take on the Habs.

Brodeur, a Quebec native who’s father was the longtime Canadiens’ team photographer, has been sitting behind Cory Schneider for the last three games and hasn’t played well in 2014, going 0-1-1 with a 3.97 GAA and .846 save percentage.

This is the last time the Devils will visit Montreal this season, having already played at the Bell Centre on Dec. 2 (a 3-2 Habs victory).

Tonight, Brodeur will go up against Carey Price in the Canadiens’ goal.


Maple Leafs at Bruins: Jonathan Bernier in for the Leafs. Tuukka Rask likely for Boston.

Sharks at Capitals: Antti Niemi vs. Philipp Grubauer

Islanders at Panthers: Kevin Poulin vs. Tim Thomas

Flyers at Sabres: Steve Mason vs. Jhonas Enroth

Avalanche at ‘Hawks: Semyon Varlamov vs. Corey Crawford

Coyotes at Blues: Mike Smith vs. Jaroslav Halak

Flames at Predators: Karri Ramo vs. Carter Hutton

Senators at Wild: Robin Lehner vs. Darcy Kuemper

Oilers at Stars: Ilya Bryzgalov in for Edmonton. Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas.

Markov, pending UFA, wants to stay in Montreal ‘for the rest of my career’

Andrei Markov

Andrei Markov wants to be a Canadien for the remainder of his playing days, and he’s not afraid to said it.

“Maybe I’m going to sign another contract tomorrow. Maybe in another month. We’ll see,” Markov said, per the Montreal Gazette. “I’d like to stay here for the rest of my career.”

Markov, 35, has spent his entire 13-year career in Montreal, appearing in over 700 regular season and 50 playoff games. He’s played in a pair of All-Star Games and emerged as one of the league’s better offensive defensemen, posting a career-high 64 points during the 2008-09 campaign.

The last few seasons, though, have been a struggle.

A slew of knee injuries saw him miss over 180 games in a three-year span. There were major concerns that the injuries might be of the career-ending variety, given Markov was well on the wrong side of 30.

But to his credit, he has returned and played well for the Habs, scoring 30 points during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign and 24 points through 46 games this year. Along with P.K. Subban, Markov is one of the anchors of Montreal’s 10th-ranked power play (Subban leads the Habs with 12 power play assists, Markov is second with 11.)

He was also named to Russia’s Olympic squad last week, the third time he’s been selected to represent his country at the Winter Games.

Financially speaking, Markov will be an interesting case study. He’s in the final of a three-year, $17.25 million deal — carrying an average annual cap hit of $5.75 million — and could net a fairly large sum on the open market, given 1) the cap’s going up, and 2) veteran offensive defensemen really cashed in last summer (Mark Streit signed for $21 million in Philly, Sergei Gonchar got $10 million from Dallas).

Markov is hoping he’ll get his money in Montreal, but acknowledged nothing’s in the works just yet.

“Marc [Bergevin, Montreal’s GM] is interested to talk to me but there’s nothing specific now,” he said. “There is nothing I can say right now.”