The Capitals already faced Rene Bourque once since he elbowed Nicklas Backstrom to the head on Jan. 3. The blow sidelined the center with a concussion and Backstrom has been out ever since, skating for only five minutes in the past 29 days.
The last time Washington met with the Canadiens on Jan. 18, Matt Hendricks challenged Bourque to a fight nine seconds into the forward’s first shift. By all accounts, Bourque won that fight against Hendricks and that was the end of any extracurricular activities between the Montreal forward and the Capitals.
As the teams meet again Saturday afternoon, it’s uncertain whether the Capitals feel they’ve received enough retribution especially considering that there is no sign of when Backstrom might be able to return.
“I don’t know, our guy is still out,” Brooks Laich said when asked if things are over between the Capitals and Bourque. “I don’t think our guys are ever going to forget what happened. I don’t know if it’s over or not. We’re going to win a hockey game. That’s the main focus, if anything else happens it happens.”
One thing is clear, though, and it’s that Washington needs the two points that are up for grabs at Bell Center more than any message it might want to send.
The Capitals enter this contest in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 56 points and regardless of the outcome in Montreal they will remain in second place in the Southeast Division behind Florida (59 points). Washington simply can’t afford to let more games slip through their fingers.
“It’s two points,” Coach Dale Hunter said. “Even before that [Jan. 18] game we said we needed the two points. That’s what’s most important to us and to them.”
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