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Caps Back to Work vs. Ducks on Monday

After a day off in the midst of a busy stretch, the Caps are back in action against Anaheim

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps / washingtoncaps.com

Nov. 18 vs. Anaheim Ducks at Capital One Arena

Time: 7:00 p.m.

TV: NBCSW

Radio: Capitals Radio 24/7, 106.7 FAN

 

Anaheim Ducks 10-9-2

Washington Capitals 15-3-4

After a much needed and well-deserved day of rest on Sunday, the Capitals continue a busy stretch of hockey on Monday night when they host the Anaheim Ducks. It's the first of two meetings between the two teams in a span of three weeks.

Washington comes into Monday's game on the heels of a 3-2 shootout win over the Bruins in Boston on Saturday night. The Caps trailed for much of that contest, mostly because they were stymied repeatedly on prime scoring chances throughout the night. Boston netminder Jaroslav Halak finished the night with 42 saves - several of them spectacular - and the Caps were down 2-1 late in regulation.

But T.J. Oshie's 6-on-5 goal forced overtime, and after an entertaining extra session failed to produce a winner, Jakub Vrana won it for Washington with a highlight reel goal in the shootout.

Saturday's performance was also a sturdy rebound effort from the Caps in the wake of one of their few substandard performances of the season, a 5-2 home ice loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.

"I was happy with our guys tonight in terms of our overall play, and the response we had," said Caps coach Todd Reirden after Saturday's win. "And then the buy-in, and the belief; we talked about it through the first 20 games this year. That's been a difference maker for me, is our team believes in what we're doing and if we do it long enough, we're going to get rewarded.

"Credit to a little bit of improved play defensively that you can still get out with some points in these games, and that's how it's going to go. Like tonight, we definitely carried the scoring chances heavily, shots on net heavily, and the other goaltender is playing well. So you have to continue to not get frustrated, stay with your game plan, and eventually some nights it's going to take a while for one to go in.

"We've seen a lot go in early, in the first 20 games, and not as many lately."

Through 22 games, the Caps have had few subpar showings along the way. As they've done for much of the last half decade, they followed up Friday's lackluster game with a much more focused and driven effort on Saturday. Even then, Halak nearly stole two points from them.

"We're a pretty loose team," says Caps right wing T.J. Oshie. "We like to have fun at the rink every day and mess around. And sometimes when we get a little lackadaisical with the mental side of the game - like I think we did [Friday] night - we just find a way to refocus pretty quickly.

"Since I've gotten here - and even before that - this team has done a pretty good job and won a lot of games. I think a lot of that is how well we're able to recover from a loss, from a game where we're maybe not at the top of our level. And tonight I think we got back up there."

With Friday's win, the Caps are now 12-1-2 in their last 15 games. Starting with Monday's game against the Ducks, Washington will play four of its next five games in the District. Ten games into their slate of home games, the Caps have won only half (5-2-3). They've done most of their damage on the road where they own the league's best record at 10-1-1.

Ten of the Capitals' first 22 games have required more than 60 minutes of hockey, and they've gone to overtime in seven of their last 11 games. Washington is 8-1-4 in one-goal games, but it hasn't played a one-goal game that didn't require overtime in more than a month, since Oct. 16 when it downed the Leafs, 4-3.

The Ducks just finished up a seven-game homestand that started out in promising fashion, but finished poorly. Anaheim won the first two games, but lost five straight (0-3-2) before heading out on the road for its next four games.

The trip started on Saturday night in St. Louis with a 4-1 victory on the strength of Derek Grant's first career hat trick, which included his first career shorthanded goal. John Gibson made 37 saves to improve to 7-9-0.

Under new coach Dallas Eakins - a former Washington draft pick (10th round, 208th overall in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft) - the Ducks won three straight and six of their first eight (6-2-0) out of the starting gate. But Anaheim has won just four of 13 since (4-7-2),  

After facing the Caps in D.C., the Ducks fly south to Florida where they'll take on Florida and Tampa Bay, respectively, before heading back home. Early next month, the Caps and Ducks will finish their season's series in Anaheim in the finale of Washington's four-game road trip.

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