The Colorado Avalanche come home after an extremely disheartening loss against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. After playing two of their best periods of the season, Colorado surrendered a two goal lead within a five minute span of the third period and left San Jose without a single point.
They will face a Washington Capitals team that is having an even more disappointing season. Once considered a Stanley Cup favorite this offseason, Washington has completely fallen off the map. Coach Bruce Boudreau was fired earlier this month (and promptly signed by the Anaheim Ducks less than 48 hours later), and star forward Alex Ovechkin has been very un-Ovechkin this year with 10 goals and just 22 points. Top defenseman Mike Green has missed most of the season with a severe groin injury and could be out for substantially longer. Prized goalie Tomas Vokoun has been disappointing as well, with a 2.81 GAA. Goalie Michal Neuvirth (338 GAA, .885 SV%) will start in Vokoun's place at Pepsi Center, though he has been much worse statistically this season.
For Colorado, there hasn't been an official starting goalie named, but all bets are on Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov was drafted by the Capitals, and was viewed as their best starting goalie option going forward. Unfortunately, he was never able to stay healthy consistently enough to keep the job and the Capitals traded him to Colorado this offseason for a first and second round pick in the draft. Varlamov has been inconsistent this season as well, but has shown flashes of brilliance.
Forward Kevin Porter returns to the lineup from his four game suspension after a hit on Vancouver Canucks forward David Booth. He will likely take the place of AHL callup Evan Brophey, who saw only four minutes on the ice against San Jose.
Puck drops at 7:00 p.m.
For more coverage, visit our Avalanche blog Mile High Hockey and our Capitals blog Japer's Rink.