The Capitals may be catching the Ottawa Senators at a good time as the teams skate tonight at Scotia Bank Place for the first of three meetings this season.
Ottawa has lost two straight after a 3-0-0 start, and they’ll be without No.1 center Jason Spezza tonight against the Capitals due to an upper-body injury.
Spezza is tied for the team lead with five points (three goals and two assists) in five games, but he was injured in Sunday’s 2-1 shootout loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“[Spezza] is one of those guys that their team revolves around,” forward Troy Brouwer told NHL.com at the Capitals morning skate.
“He carries the play whenever he’s on the ice and he’s got the ability to make guys look silly. If he’s out of the lineup, we’ve got to attack that first line and make sure they aren’t having an easy time out there. We need to finish our plays and focus on their other star players.”
In Spezza’s place, Peter Regin is expected to center Ottawa’s top-line, alongside Milan Michalek and rookie Jakob Silfverberg. While Michalek has a goal and five points, Regin and Silfverberg have one point (a Silfverberg goal) between them.
“Peter played well last year,” Senators head coach Paul MacLean told reporters Tuesday. “So we’re going to give him the opportunity to start the game tonight in that position and we’ll evaluate it as it goes along. But I think at this point in time we’re prepared to give him that opportunity… He’s played in the league, he generates offense and he’s got some ability, so we like him there right now.”
Senators prospect Mika Zibanejad is also expected to make his NHL season debut against the Capitals. The sixth overall pick from the 2011 NHL Draft, Zibanejad had one assist in nine NHL games last season, before recording 11 points in 23 games with the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League this season.
Captain Daniel Alfredsson is also expected to return to the Senators lineup after missing Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh with the flu.
The Caps are not expected to make any lineup changes from Sunday’s 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Michal Neuvirth and Craig Anderson are tonight’s starting goalies.