Jaroslav Halak will be back in net for the Capitals Tuesday night against the Kings, making his eighth start in nine games.
The 28-year-old netminder skipped a scheduled start Saturday at San Jose because of a lower-body injury, but downplayed concern, stating that he simply needed a day to recover after facing 230 shots (32.8 average) in his first seven games with the Capitals.
“It happened to me before where I was out for a long time,” Halak said. “I don’t want to have that happen again so I just want to be cautious. I needed a break, I got it and now I’m good again.”
While the precise nature of Halak’s ailment is unknown, the netminder has a history of groin problems and missed several games, including 12 straight, during the 2012-13 season because of that injury.
Halak appears to be no worse for wear after missing Saturday’s game, though, and has taken part in both practices since the team returned to Washington from its west coast trip.
In his first seven games with Washington, Halak is 4-2-1 with a .935 save percentage and 2.13 goals against average. Last week in Los Angeles, Halak made 27 saves in the Capitals’ 2-1 shootout loss to the Kings.
“I think right now the guys feel good about both goalies,” Coach Adam Oates said, “Which is a good feeling for the coaching staff obviously and a good feeling for the players.”
>> The Kings, who defeated the Flyers, 3-2, Monday night in Philadelphia, are not holding a morning skate so it’s uncertain which goaltender they’ll start against the Capitals.
Jonathan Quick, who made 21 saves against Washington last week, has started each of the last four games for Los Angeles but the team is in the middle of playing three games in four nights on its current road trip. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see the Kings rest Quick (24-15-2, 2.01 goals-against average, .918 save percentage) and opt to start rookie Martin Jones instead.
Jones (10-5, 1.90 goals-against average, .932 save percentage) emerged on the scene this year while Quick was injured and played well enough to prompt the Kings to trade Ben Scrivens to Edmonton. While he’s a fresh face at the NHL level, Jones is somewhat familiar to Karl Alzner as the two overlapped during their time with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen.
“I always remember him being a big kid,” Alzner said of Jones, who is listed at 6-feet-4. “He covers the bottom of the net really well, he can move good and I remember that whenever you make the Western league as a 16 year old you’re a pretty good goaltender….He had all the tools back then, if we get to see him tonight it will be exciting to see how he’s shaped them. Hopefully he hasn’t shaped them too good.”
>> Mikhail Grabovski, who has missed 20 of the last 21 games with a sprained left ankle, skated with the team for a second straight day Tuesday. While Grabovski will not return to the lineup against the Kings, his continued presence in practice is an encouraging sign.
>> Projected lineups for both teams
Marian Gaborik-Anze Kopitar-Justin Williams
Tanner Pearson-Jeff Carter-Tyler Toffoli
Dwight King-Jarret Stoll-Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford-Mike Richards-Trevor Lewis
Jake Muzzin-Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr-Slava Voynov
Willie Mitchell-Alec Martinez
Jonathan Quick or Martin Jones.