The Washington Capitals defeated the St. Louis Blues Wednesday for their first win in Missouri since 1996. On Thursday, the Capitals hope to get a big win in "Big D" against the Dallas Stars in defenseman Scott Hannan's Washington debut.
Hannan, acquired Tuesday from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Tomas Fleischmann, was a healthy scratch in the Capitals' 4-1 win over the Blues, but will start tonight in a pairing with John Erskine. According to head coach Bruce Boudreau, Tom Poti, Hannan's eventual defensive partner, will not play because a of a mild groin strain he suffered Wednesday. Poti has already missed 17 games this season with similar injuries.
Michal Neuvirth will get his first start since November 20, giving Semyon Varlamov a break. Varlamov has won four straight games since his return from injury.
The Stars, like the Capitals, are riding a four-game winning streak into Thursday's game and lead the Pacific Division with 29 points. Both teams also have three double-digit goal scorers; the Stars are led by Brad Richards' 28 points, followed by Loui Eriksson's 25 and James Neal and Mike Ribeiro's 21.
Andrew Raycroft will get a rare start in goal for the Stars. Kari Lehtonen has played in all but three games this season. Regardless, Raycroft is 5-3-1 with a .916 save percentage and 2.16 goals against average in his career against the Capitals.