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Caps Face Canes, Finally

October 10, 2013

After what feels like a second training camp, the Caps will finally play another actual hockey game tonight at Verizon Center, hosting the Carolina Hurricanes. The Capitals played three games in a span of nine days to start the season and now they’ll play three games in the next five nights.


That’s much more like it.


Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars feels like it happened last season.


Braden Holtby will be in goal against Carolina tonight. In five career starts against the Hurricanes, Holtby is 4-1 with a shutout, a 1.60 GAA and a .957 save pct. He made 19 stops on the 21 shots he faced in that game in Dallas, lo those many hours ago.


There will be a few lineup tweaks, but none of the magnitude that will placate some of those out there that have been pleading for wholesale changes because of Washington’s 1-2 start.


Michael Latta – recalled from AHL Hershey on Tuesday – will replace Jay Beagle in the middle of Washington’s fourth line tonight. Latta centered the fourth line for Washington’s season opener in Chicago last Tuesday, but was reassigned to Hershey on Thursday in order to make room on the roster for defenseman Alexander Urbom, who was claimed off waivers from New Jersey a week ago.


Speaking of Urbom, he has been practicing with the Capitals for the last week and has been deemed fit for game duty. The 22-year-old Swedish blueliner will suit up for his 15th career NHL game tonight. He’ll be paired with Steve Oleksy.


Holtby will be opposed by Carolina’s Anton Khudobin, formerly of the Boston Khudobins, er, Bruins. Khudobin is the owner of Carolina’s lone victory of the season to date. On Sunday, he helped send Peter Laviolette to the unemployment line when he stopped 17 of the 18 shots the Philadelphia Flyers managed to muster against him in a 2-1 Carolina victory in Raleigh.


Laviolette was given the gas the next morning.


While sporting the black and gold of his previous employed, Khudobin downed the Caps 4-1 in a Saturday matinee in Beantown last March 16. He stopped 32 of the 33 shots he faced in that game, his lone career appearance against the Capitals.


Khudobin is wearing his third different NHL sweater; he was originally a seventh-round choice (206th overall) of the Minnesota Wild in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. Lifetime, Khudobin is 15-5-1 with two shutouts, a 1.98 GAA and a .933 save pct. His presence on the roster means Carolina finally has a backup that is legitimate enough that veteran Cam Ward doesn’t have to start 67-plus games as he did four times in five seasons from 2007-08 through 2011-12.


Carolina dressed the same 18 skaters for each of its first three games this season, the most recent of which was a 5-2 loss to the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.


The Canes are currently playing without forward Tuomo Ruutu (lower body) and top-four defensemen Joni Pitkanen (left heel surgery) and Tim Gleason (concussion).