NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2015-16 campaign tonight when the Washington Capitals host the Florida Panthers at 7:30 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.
The two best teams in the Eastern Conference will clash in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday night, but will it be a fair fight?
The Capitals, who have an 11-point lead over the Panthers, will be without two of their starts.
Alex Ovechkin will serve his mandatory one-game suspension for ditching the All-Star game, while starting goaltender Braden Holtby is being given the night off because he’s coming back from All-Star game.
That means Philipp Grubauer will be between the pipes for the Caps. He has a 5-3-1 record with a 2.12 goals-against-average and a .925 save percentage this season.
Washington was obliterated, 5-0, by San Jose in their only game without Ovechkin this season.
“When you’re missing the best player on your team, it’s hard to do anything to fill that void,” defenseman Karl Alzner said of playing without Ovechkin, per the Washington Post. “You have guys that can play his roles. Can they do them as good as him? Maybe on some days, but he’s pretty special, so I think we just need more work and a little bit extra from every guy.”
The Panthers entered the All-Star break on a three-game winning streak. They picked up victories against Chicago, Tampa Bay and Toronto.
Starter Roberto Luongo, who was also part of the All-Star game festivities, will also get the night off. The 36-year-old was in goal for all three of Florida’s wins before the break.
Al Montoya will get the start.
Another All-Star, Aaron Ekblad, will play against Washington.
He’s been key for the Panthers this season. The sophomore missed four games between Jan. 11 and Jan. 18. The Panthers went 0-3-1 without him during that stretch.
Just how good have they been with 19-year-old in their lineup?
Florida’s won 15 consecutive games with Ekblad.