Pregame primer: Ovechkin game-time decision

Pregame primer: Ovechkin game-time decision
January 25, 2014, 2:30 pm
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(Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)

News and notes as the Capitals [22-21-8] visit the Montreal Canadiens [27-19-5] tonight at the Bell Centre [7 p.m., CSN]:

Ovi ready for return? Right wing Alex Ovechkin skated with the Caps on Saturday and will decide after pregame warmups whether he’s ready to return after missing three games with a groin strain that has sidelined him since Sunday night in New York. Ovechkin still leads the NHL with 35 goals in 47 games and the Caps have just one goal in their last two games without him.

Grabovski hurting: Center Mikhail Grabovski is doubtful after injuring his left leg in Friday night’s 2-1 loss to the Devils. Grabovski’s leg got bend sideways as he was taken awkwardly to the ice by Devils defenseman Bryce Salvadore in the second period. If Ovechkin and Grabovski cannot  play, the Caps would either dress seven defensemen or make a quick call to Hershey for a forward.

Holtby gets the call: Braden Holtby will get the start for the Capitals. Holtby [13-12-2, 3.00, .911] has not won a game since Dec. 7, but he is 4-0-0 against the Canadiens in his NHL career with a 1.23 GAA and .957 save percentage. Oddly enough, Holtby’s career record on Saturdays is 14-4-3 with three shutouts, a 2.29 GAA and a .924 save percentage.

[RELATED: Holtby hopes to break Caps' 7-game skid]

Scoring troubles: The Caps have scored just eight goals during their 0-5-2 losing streak. Troy Brouwer has gone 10 games without a goal. Nicklas Backstrom and Joel Ward each have gone seven straight without scoring. The Canadiens have lost three in a row and have just two goals in their last two games. They were outscored 9-2 in back-to-back road losses in Pittsburgh and Detroit and are playing at home for the first time after a four-game road trip.

Powerless: The Caps’ power play has gone dry, going 1-for-24 in the past eight games, dropping from 26.1 percent to 23.2 percent.

Good fortune: The Caps are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games against the Canadiens, outscoring them 27-15. They are also 8-1-1 in their last 10 visits to the Bell Centre. Before tonight’s game the Caps’ fathers were scheduled to take a tour of the arena.

Oates coaches 100th: This will mark Adam Oates’ 100th NHL game for the Caps. Through 99 games he has a record of  49-39-11.

Hab-nots: The Canadiens are expected to be without forwards Alex Galchenyuk, and Ryan White and defenseman Davis Drewiske.

Look ahead: The Caps and their dads will return home from Montreal after the game. The Caps are expected to have the day off on Sunday and return to practice at Kettler on Monday before heading to Buffalo for the back end of their five-game road trip, with stops in Columbus and Detroit to follow.

[RELATED: Instant analysis: Devils 2, Capitals 1]

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