Caps have a date with the devils
Oct. 24 vs. New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Radio: Capitals Radio 24/7, 106.7 The Fan
Washington Capitals (3-3-0)
New Jersey Devils (3-2-0)
For the first time this season, the Caps will face a Metropolitan Division opponent when they take on the New Jersey Devils on Monday night. The game is the first of four straight road games for Washington, which will end that stretch of road next Monday with another Metro Division game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Six games into the young season, the Caps have won three of their four home games but have dropped their two road games so far, losing to Toronto and Ottawa on back-to-back Thursday nights. Against Ottawa last Thursday, the Caps put together a solid first period and carved out a 2-0 lead on a pair of power play goals, but were thwarted by the Sens in the final 40 minutes, getting beaten 37-12 during this period. stretch and net five unanswered goals – the last two into an empty net – in a 5-2 loss.
Returning home to host Los Angeles on Saturday night, Washington played a stellar defensive game. In the first 40 minutes of the game, the Capitals limited the Kings to just 13 shots on goal and a paltry total of three high-risk scoring chances, according to naturalstattrick.com. The Los Angeles forwards had combined just seven shots in two periods, only four of which came from inside 30 feet of the Washington net. Three times in the first 40 minutes of games, the Caps kept the Kings from registering a shot on net for more than eight minutes.
But for the second time in as many home games, the Caps found themselves down two goals as they took to the ice for the start of the third. And for the second time in as many home games, the Caps scored a four-goal third period to win a hockey game. In doing so, they became the fifth team in NHL history to record two third-period multi-goal returns in the first six games of the season.
“The score was the score at the end of two,” Caps coach Peter Laviolette said. “Usually [the players] or me or we both have a good sense of when we’re not playing well. Didn’t feel like it was 2-0, so we stuck with it. We tried to press a little harder, to be a little harder on the forecheck.
“The biggest thing was getting more pucks to the net and trying to generate more chances, whether it was first chance, second chance, third chance. So there was definitely room for improvement after two periods, and I thought we did. And it was a great comeback from 2-0 before the third.”
Early in the third, the Caps began throwing pucks at Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick, doing so deliberately and from a distance in many cases. Each of Washington’s first four shots in the third period came off a defender’s stick, and each came from 55 to 91 feet. The fourth of those shots allowed Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick to freeze the puck and the Caps earned a tie in the offensive zone, which led to Washington’s first goal of the game. Nic Dowd at 3:11 of the third.
The Caps held firm. John Carlson had already shot one of those long-range drives — starting at 60 feet — on his first shift of the third period. On his next shift, he threw two more, one at 98 and the other at 97 feet. Then Carlson broke away from a 29-footer in Los Angeles territory, and he glanced at Quick’s glove and tied the game at 4:11. Carlson’s goal, the 134th of his NHL career, ties him to Victor Hedman for sixth among all active defensemen.
“When both teams lock in the neutral zone, it tends to be a bad game,” says Laviolette. “You have to get away with it. If you try to do it, it’s turnovers. So you have to put it behind [the opposition].
“I thought Carly did a good job throwing a bomb from center ice maybe three times, and it kind of exploded [Quick] and these are difficult to manage. We end up scoring a goal, and at least getting the zone time and spending it in the attacking zone.”
In four home games this season, the Caps have averaged 27 shots against per game, ninth-best in the NHL. But in their two road losses, their goaltenders had to work too hard, which they will look to improve with these four road games to close out October.
With Charlie Lindgren making his Washington debut in Toronto on October 13, the Caps allowed 39 shots in a 3-2 loss. A week later, the Senators dumped 44 shots on Washington’s net with Darcy Kuemper in the fold.
Looking to reduce the number of shots on their net against New Jersey on Monday night, the Caps could be facing a daunting task. After five games in the season, the Devils rank second in the league with an average of 39.2 shots on goal per game.
New Jersey is riding a three-game winning streak in Monday’s game against the Capitals. After losing two 5-2 decisions to start the season in Philadelphia and in their home opener against Detroit, the Devils have won three straight, allowing a grand total of four goals against in the process.
In their two losses early in the season, the Devils split guard duties between MacKenzie Blackwood and former Cap Vitek Vanecek, but Blackwood has been between the pipes throughout New Jersey’s current winning streak. Monday’s game against Washington is the start of the Devils’ first back-to-back streak this season; New Jersey travels to Detroit for a Tuesday night date with the Red Wings.