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3 things to watch for as the Golden Knights take on the Capitals

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Washington returns to Las Vegas for the first time since hoisting the Stanley Cup nearly six months ago.

Vegas Golden Knights v Washington Capitals Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

We all know what happened back in June.

This isn’t the first time the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights are facing off this season, but it’s the first time Washington is travelling to Vegas since Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals celebrated on the ice of T-Mobile Arena.

The Golden Knights lost 5-2 in Washington back in October. For those hoping for a Stanley Cup hangover from the Capitals, that hasn’t been the case so far. They’re first in the Metropolitan Division, and would have rolled into Las Vegas riding an eight-game winning streak if they didn’t blow a

*cleans glasses

FOUR-GOAL LEAD AGAINST THE ANAHEIM DUCKS.

Washington lost to Anaheim 6-5 on Sunday. Alrighty.

Meanwhile, the Knights have slowly crawled back to the top of the Pacific Division, winning five of their last six. Here’s what to observe in this rematch.

Can the Capitals’ top five be stopped?

They dominated during the playoffs, and they’re dominating again. Alex Ovechkin has 19 goals and 32 points, with seven goals and five assists in his last eight games. Tom Wilson has played just 10 games thanks to the hefty suspension he served, but has been playing out of his mind since returning, scoring in six straight games. Evgeny Kuznetsov was sidelined for a couple of weeks but returned on Nov. 30, and has one goal and two assists in two games since. Oh, and John Carlson has 29 points and Nicklas Backstrom has 33. Safe to say the Golden Knights will have their hands full.

Ride or die with Flower

Marc-Andre Fleury has started six straight games for the Golden Knights, going 5-1 with two shutouts. He was named the third star of the month, and has been a big reason why the Knights have re-emerged from their slump. He’s started 24 games to Malcolm Subban’s five, which puts him on pace to start in 68 games this year. This would be a new career-high for the 34 year old.

It’s clear that Gerard Gallant is ready to commit to riding the hot hand for the moment. It’s only based on an eye test, but the Golden Knights simply seem to play better and with more confidence when Flower is in the net behind them. Subban will work his way back into playing a decent amount since Fleury will need rest at some point, but for the time being it looks like it’s the Flower Show.

The return of Wild Bill?

The top line of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith conducted the hype train. While they haven’t been bad this year per se, they haven’t been nearly as dominant. However, one-third of that triad seems to be picking it up, and that’s 71. Karlsson has scored in four straight games entering tonight’s matchup, and will look to tie his career-high streak of five straight. His streak began on Nov. 24 against the San Jose Sharks, and before that he scored just three goals in 15 games.

How to Watch

Time: 7 p.m. PT

TV: AT&T SportsNet-Rocky Mountain, NHL.TV

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM