The Blackhawks are coming off one of their best games of the season, a 5-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. It was just the fourth time they scored more than two goals in a game this season. The win snapped a two-game losing streak and improved them to 7-5-1.
The Capitals have dropped their last five games and are 4-5-3 on the season. Alex Ovechkin (six goals, seven assists) and Nicklas Backstrom (three goals, 10 assists) each lead the Capitals with 13 points.
The Blackhawks will be without forward Patrick Sharp for 3-4 weeks after he suffered a lower-body injury Tuesday. He has three goals, six assists and is third among the team’s forwards in ice time this season. The Blackhawks are also still without forward Daniel Carcillo, who was injured Oct. 25. The Blackhawks recalled Peter Regin on Thursday to give them 12 healthy forwards.
The Blackhawks’ lines are expected to be Ben Smith – Jonathan Toews – Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad – Andrew Shaw – Marian Hossa, Bryan Bickell – Marcus Kruger – Kris Versteeg, Regin – Brad Richards – Jeremy Morin. The defenseman pairings are expected to be Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya – Niklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van Riemsdyk – David Rundblad.
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford will start his fourth consecutive game since returning from injury. He’s 4-2-1 with a 1.53 goals-against average and .938 save percentage this season.
Braden Holtby will start in net for the Capitals. He’s 3-3-2 with a 2.67 goals-against average and .891 save percentage this season.
The Capitals are one of the league’s premier power-play teams and are second in the NHL at 29.3 percent. The Blackhawks lead the league with a 92.7 penalty-kill percentage.
The two teams will next meet in the Winter Classic, which will be held at Nationals Park on Jan. 1, 2015. The players wore winter caps in their dressing rooms during interviews Friday.