Michal Neuvirth owns the Montreal Canadiens this season and played well against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night, and he’ll get the nod in goal for the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.
“He deserved it from last game,” coach Dale Hunter said. “Going to a shootout against Boston, if you see the stats from the shooters on Boston, they’re right up there so he made big saves and got us a big win.”
In five games all-time against Montreal, Neuvirth is 3-1-0 with a 1.82 goals-against average and .935 save percentage; this season he’s 2-0-0 with a 0.50 GAA and .984 save percentage.
Braden Holtby is set to be the backup, as Tomas Vokoun sits out with what appeared to be an aggravation of a groin injury.
Backup Peter Budaj (3-7-3, 2.90, .905) gets the start for the Habs.
Nicklas Backstrom’s return to the Caps’ lineup against Montreal meant some very minor line-shifting. Brooks Laich slides down the lineup into what should be a more comfortable spot as the third-line center.
“We spent half the season without Nick so I think guys are comfortable in the roles that they’re in now,” Laich said. “But he’s a welcome addition. We get our buddy back.”
Here are the lines from the morning skate:
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Marcus Johansson
Jason Chimera – Mathieu Perreault – Alexander Semin
Keith Aucoin – Brooks Laich – Troy Brouwer
Matt Hendricks – Jay Beagle – Mike Knuble
It was not 100 percent clear what the defensive pairs will be, but if they are the same as Thursday…
Karl Alzner – Dennis Wideman
Roman Hamrlik – Mike Green
Dmitry Orlov – John Carlson
Backstrom’s presence bumped Cody Eakin out of the Caps’ lineup after a one-game cameo. The other scratches up front are Joel Ward and Jeff Halpern.
This is the fifth game Ward has missed since taking a puck to the foot March 22 at Philadelphia. This is Halpern’s fourth straight game as a healthy scratch and ninth in the past 12.
John Erskine (lower-body injury) did not skate Saturday and will be out again. Jeff Schultz will be the healthy scratch on defense.