Game 23 Preview: Washington Capitals Host Montreal Canadiens

Dave Nichols@@DaveNicholsDSPSenior Analyst INovember 28, 2008

The Washington Capitals (12-7-3-27, first in Southeast) play holiday hosts to the Montreal Canadiens (12-5-4-28, second in Northeast) at 7 p.m. ET from the Verizon Center.
The injury-riddled Caps come off Wednesday's victory over the Atlanta Thrashers with still more missing players. Veteran Tom Poti strained a groin in the 5-3 win, and he'll be on the shelf with the rest of the Caps' walking wounded. A quick glance of the Caps injury sheet reads like a Russian novel.
Out for tonight's game include four of their top six defenders (Poti, Mike Green (shoulder), Jeff Schultz (finger), and John Eskine (concussion). Absent up front are the team's second leading scorer Alexander Semin, veteran center Sergei Federov and captain Chris Clark.
To compensate for Poti's injury, Washington signed and recalled veteran minor league D Bryan Helmer and will pair him with Tyler Sloan, with whom he was playing in Hershey before Sloan's call-up.
Helmer, 36, is a 6'1", 215-pound 16-year pro from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. He is the Bears captain and is second among team defensemen with eight assists. He has also recorded 14 penalty minutes in 21 games this year.
Helmer, who was undrafted, is a veteran of 134 NHL games and most recently played with the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2003-04 season. He also suited up for the St. Louis Blues and the Vancouver Canucks and has eight goals, 15 assists and 133 penalty minutes on his NHL resume.
The entire Caps' defensive corps tonight--Shaone Morrisonn, Milan Jurcina, Bryan Helmer, Tyler Sloan, Sami Lepisto Karl Alzner--has a total of 669 NHL games to its credit, more than 400 games less than Montreal defensemen Roman Hamrlik and Patrice Brisbois combined.
Winger Graham Mink was returned to Hershey to make room for Helmer and Boyd Gordon is expected to return from his bout with back spasms.

Tonight's lines:
Forwards
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Kozlov
Fleischmann-Nylander-Fehr
Laich-Steckel-Bradley
Brashear-Gordon-Bourque

Defense
Lepisto-Morrisonn
Alzner-Jurcina
Helmer-Sloan
Les Habitant du Montreal are led by Saku Koivu (7-11-18, +9), Alex Tanguay (8-9-17, +5) and Aelxei Kovalev (5-11-16, even). Kovalev has gone nine games without a goal this month and Montreal has lost six of them.
Carey Price is the number one goaltender. He is 10-4-6 with a 2.33 GAA and .923 Sv%. Price was sharp between the pipes in Wednesday's 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Price stopped 32 shots in the game and allowed only a goal to Johan Franzen in the 3rd period.
_______________________________________________________
SPECIAL TEAMS


WAS: PP-7th (21.5%, 20/93); PK-25th (77.9%, 25/113)
MON: PP-22nd (15.5%, 16/103); PK-15th (81.9%, 19/105)
_______________________________________________________
INJURIES

WAS: RW Chris Clark (Forearm-Out); D John Erskine (Concussion-QUE); C Sergei Fedorov (Ankle-QUE); C Boyd Gordon (Back-PROB); D Mike Green (Shoulder-OUT); D Tom Poti Groin-DOU); D Jeff Schultz (Finger-IR); LW Alexander Semin (Back-OUT); D Brian Pothier (Concussion-OUT)

MON: D Mike Komisarek (Upper body-IR); RW Georges Laraque (Groin-OUT); RW Guillaume Latendresse (Shoulder-QUE); LW Alex Tanguay (Neck-QUE)

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