Nov. 12 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets at Verizon Center
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Radio: Capitals Radio Network
Columbus Blue Jackets (6-10-0)
Washington Capitals (9-8-1)
After a long but quick weekend trip out west to face Phoenix and Colorado on back-to-back nights, the Caps stop back home to host the Columbus Blue Jackets in a Metropolitan Division matchup on Tuesday night at Verizon Center.
Washington was minutes away from earning a regulation win over the Coyotes on Saturday night but instead settled for just a single point in a 4-3 shootout loss. A night later in Denver, the Caps hung in against one of the league’s top teams – and in the rarified, high-altitude – and were within a goal of the Avs near the midpoint of the third period. But Washington ultimately dropped that game as well, losing by a 4-1 count.
“We’re frustrated with the trip,” said Caps forward Brooks Laich in the aftermath of Sunday’s loss in Denver. “Frustrated to give the one away [Saturday] night and still get a point, a valuable point. But I think we still did some good things in the hockey game.
“When you don’t win, everybody is upset and everybody is mad. It’s frustrating to not win, but at the same time, you’ve got to take a day to refresh and take a day to look at the video and see the good things that we did and the bad things that we did and move on, get ready for Tuesday.”
Caps coach Adam Oates echoed Laich’s thoughts, noting that the team’s play is more important than results at this stage.
“We talk a lot about how we play,” says Oates. “It’s always how we play. You don’t want to lose games, but it’s how we play, big picture.”
There have been some positives for the Caps, even in their losses, and the team comes home from the road in second place in the Metropolitan Division, three points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In seven of Washington’s nine losses, the Caps have been no worse than a single goal down near the midpoint of the third period. The only losses that don’t fit that mold are the team’s 5-1 loss to Colorado at Verizon Center on Oct. 12 and its 2-0 home ice whitewashing at the hands of the New York Rangers four days later.
Washington has surrendered 30 or more shots on goal in each of its last 13 games, but it has posted a more than respectable 8-4-1 record during that stretch. The team’s current stretch of 13 straight games with 30 or more shots against is its longest since a 13-game run from March 18-April 10, 2006. The Caps were 4-4-5 during that 13-game period more than seven years ago.
The Caps arrived back home around 4 a.m. on Monday and then took Monday off. Tuesday’s game against Columbus concludes a grueling stretch in which Washington plays five games in eight nights, with the long weekend road trip in the middle. The Capitals are 2-1-1 heading into the final game of that stretch, then they’ll have two days between games ahead of their next contest, a Friday night date with the Red Wings in Detroit.
Eighteen games into the 2013-14 NHL season, Washington has already played eight of its 14 road games against Western Conference opponents. The Caps have already played 12 of their 28 scheduled games against Western foes.
Is it good for the Caps to have so many of those Western road games in the rear view?
“It is now,” said Oates after Sunday’s loss in Denver. “Obviously we would have liked a little better record. But we’ve got to get home and turn the page, same as always.”
Now, the Caps play their next 23 games in the Eastern time zone, a stretch that takes them to the end of the first half of the 2013-14 slate. Washington’s next game outside its time zone is a Jan. 4 game against the Wild in Minnesota, the first game of the second half of the campaign.
In addition, the Capitals don’t play consecutive games on the road again until Dec. 17-20 when they visit Philadelphia and Carolina, respectively.
The Capitals took a four-game winning streak out west with them, and even though they dropped both games, they are still 8-4-1 in their last 13 games, and they’ve won four straight games on Verizon Center ice. Washington is 2-2 in its four games this season against Metropolitan Division opponents.
The Caps downed the Jackets at Verizon Center by a 4-1 score on Oct. 19 in the only prior meeting between the two teams this season and the first time ever that the two clubs met as divisional opponents.
Columbus comes to town in seventh place in the eight-team Metropolitan Division. The Jackets have already endured separate losing streaks of four and five games this season. Columbus halted the latter of those two streaks in its most recent game, a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday. That victory salvaged a pair of points for the Jackets in the finale of a four-game homestand.
The Blue Jackets ended an anemic 3-for-30 power play stretch that spanned nine games, scoring two extra-man tallies in four opportunities in Saturday’s win over the Islanders.
Defending Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky earned the win over New York, his first since Oct. 25 against Toronto. The Jackets started backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney in the first two games of their four-game homestand.
In four career starts against the Capitals, Bobrovsky is 1-1-1 with a 3.55 GAA and an .893 save pct. He stopped 35 of the 39 shots he faced in the first meeting between the two teams here in the District last month.
For the Blue Jackets, Tuesday’s game starts a stretch in which they’ll play seven of their next eight games on the road. Columbus plays at Boston on Thursday, then returns home to host Montreal on Friday. After that, Columbus embarks upon a five-game trip through Canada from Nov. 17-25.