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The Chicago Blackhawks host the Washington Capitals Sunday night in an inter-conference matchup. Both teams are on two game winning streaks. Chicago's pair of victories were its first of the season after starting the year 0-2-1. Washington is 5-2-2 and tied for the Metropolitan Division lead in points. This is the first meeting between these two teams, though the Capitals did beat the Blackhawks twice in the preseason.
Chicago enters Sunday having played the fewest games of any team in the Western Conference. Patrick Kane leads the team in points (7) with five goals and two assists. Both of those assists came in Friday night's overtime win over Columbus. The Blackhawks are scoring as many goals per game as they're allowing -- three. Washington, meanwhile, has won three of its last four after going through a three-game losing streak. Defenseman John Carlson leads the team with 17 points including 14 assists.
Capitals go for third straightThe Washington Capitals have gotten off to an uneven start to the 2019-20 season but have a chance Sunday to win three in a row. The trip to Chicago marks the first of a five game road trip for Washington, who won its last two games at home. Two of the Capitals' past three wins have come by a three-goal margin, including their 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers Friday night. T.J. Oshie scored a pair of goals, while goalie Braden Holtby played one of his better games of the young season, saving 26 of 28 shots.
Washington has scored three or more goals in each of its last six games. John Carlson's 17 points rank tied for the most in the NHL. The Capitals could do a little better on the power play though, as they currently boast a 25 percent scoring rate. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin have combined for five of the team's nine power play goals. Center Nicklas Backstrom is also on a hot stretch. The 12-year veteran has five points in the last five games.
Kempny returns, @Nationals in the building, Oshie scores twice, Carlson's point streak continues, Baby Shark...— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 19, 2019
Go behind-the-scenes from the place to be this Friday night in D.C.#ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/RAV7DGPVWy
The Capitals will turn to Holtby at goalie. The 30-year is allowing an average 3.83 goals per game, well above his career rate. His .862 save percentage is also uncharacteristic of him. Holtby's improvement in the win over New York is a sign of optimism, though.
Blackhawks look to stay hotThe Chicago Blackhawks are finally playing with some life after beginning the year with three straight losses. Chicago beat Edmonton and Columbus back-to-back games in large part due to solid defense and goaltending. After allowing an average of four goals in the first three games, Chicago has won the last two giving up three goals combined. The Blackhawks beat Columbus in overtime Friday on a goal by Jonathan Toews.
Five different Chicago players have two goals, including Patrick Kane and left wing Brandon Saad. It'll be essential for the Blackhawks to get strong contributions from some of their younger guys, too. 21-year old Alex DeBrincat is off to a quick start with four points (two goals and two assists), while 22-year old Dylan Strome has a goal and a pair of assists.
Veteran goalie Corey Crawford is expected to get the start Sunday. Crawford is 1-2 on the year with a poor .900 save percentage but is coming off his best outing. Crawford saved 27 of 28 shots against Edmonton to earn the win a few nights back. That comes after giving up four goals to Philadelphia and five to San Jose.
- Blackhawks are 1-4 in their last five games as an underdog.
- Capitals are 4-0 in their last four games as a favorite.
- Capitals are 8-0 in their last eight Sunday games.
- Capitals are 4-1 in their last five games as a road favorite.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Washington Capitals are playing the better hockey as of late. If Holtby can limit to Chicago to just one or two goals, the Capitals should be able to win this one with some comfort. Washington does have a bit of disadvantage playing on the road.
Prediction: Washington Capitals -135
Full-Game Total Pick
Neither starting goalie has looked very good in the early going of the season, so I expect this one to be a fairly high scoring matchup. Patrick Kane and Alex Ovechkin remain to of the top scoring threats in the NHL.