National Hockey League
Preview
Washington at New Jersey
When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, January 18, 2018
Where: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey

Two-time reigning Presidents' Trophy winner Washington is back in its accustomed spot atop the Metropolitan Division, but the New Jersey Devils get a chance to cut into the lead when they host the Capitals on Thursday night. The second-place Devils are five points behind Washington, which will be returning from its league-mandated five-day bye.

New Jersey, which has two games in hand on the Capitals, halted a six-game slide (0-3-3) with a much-needed 4-1 victory at the New York Islanders on Tuesday night. "We really wanted to get back on track and find a way to start winning more games," defenseman Damon Severson said after scoring twice against the Islanders. "This one felt good and hopefully we can get on the right track now." Washington went into its break on a high note, getting a last-second goal from Jay Beagle in a 4-3 victory at Carolina to improve to 6-1-0 in its last seven. The Capitals have been a huge nemesis for the Devils, winning five straight and 12 of the past 13 meetings, including their last seven visits to New Jersey.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBCS Washington, MSG Plus (New Jersey)

ABOUT THE CAPITALS (28-14-3): Washington center Nicklas Backstrom has endured his share of offensive struggles this season, but he has lit up New Jersey with two goals and five assists in a pair of 5-2 victories. Captain Alex Ovechkin, the league leader with 28 goals, collected five points in the two matchups and has routinely torched the Devils, amassing 22 goals and 30 assists in 47 games. The Capitals were forced to cancel Wednesday's practice session due to weather travel delays.

ABOUT THE DEVILS (23-12-8): Taylor Hall was held off the scoresheet in a 5-2 loss at Washington on Dec. 30, but he has been on a tear since with four goals and five assists during a five-game point streak. Starting netminder Cory Schneider was a late scratch against the Islanders due to illness and his status is unknown with New Jersey not practicing Wednesday. Marcus Johansson, who scored a career-high 24 goals last season for Washington, had two assists versus his former teammates on Dec. 30.

OVERTIME

1. New Jersey is 6-for-22 on the power play in its last five games.

2. Capitals G Braden Holtby has dominated the Devils with a 14-3-2 record and four shutouts.

3. Hall has been limited to one goal and three points in 10 games versus Washington.

PREDICTION: Capitals 4, Devils 3
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div
Washington 28-14-2-1 W1 18-6-0-0 10-8-2-1 2-1-0-0 26-13-2-1 8-4-0-1
New Jersey 23-12-4-4 W1 12-6-2-1 11-6-2-3 2-1-0-1 21-11-4-3 4-5-0-1
Last Meeting
Washington New Jersey
Date Away Home Shots Saves PP Shots Saves PP
12/30/17 NJ 2 WAS 5 35 25 1-2 27 30 0-2
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Total Points Player  
Washington N. Backstrom 3
New Jersey M. Johansson 2
Goals Player  
Washington N. Backstrom 1
New Jersey J. Moore 1
Assists Player  
Washington A. Ovechkin 3
New Jersey M. Johansson 2
Saves Player  
Washington B. Holtby 25
New Jersey C. Schneider 30
Season
Total Points Player  
Washington A. Ovechkin 51
New Jersey T. Hall 46
Goals Player  
Washington A. Ovechkin 28
New Jersey T. Hall 16
Assists Player  
Washington E. Kuznetsov 32
New Jersey T. Hall 30
Saves Player  
Washington B. Holtby 1030
New Jersey C. Schneider 1021
Quickchart Matchup
Washington Off vs  New Jersey Def
3.04 GF
2.95 GA
29 Shots
32.7 Shots
27 PP
26 PK
New Jersey Off vs  Washington Def
3.12 GF
2.8 GA
31.3 Shots
32.3 Shots
30 PP
32 PK