Oct. 14 vs. Colorado Avalanche at Capital One Arena
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Radio: Capitals Radio 24/7, WFED 1500 AM
Colorado Avalanche 4-0-0
Washington Capitals 3-1-2
The Caps open up a three-game homestand on Monday afternoon when they host the undefeated Colorado Avalanche at Capital One Arena.
Washington comes into Monday's game on the heels of a 4-1 victory over the Stars in Dallas on Saturday night, their third win in four road games this season. The Caps scored a pair of power-play goals and were 6-for-6 on the penalty kill against Dallas, and the game was the first of Washington's six games this season that was not decided by a single goal.
Prior to Saturday night's game, the last time Washington scored multiple power-play goals and was perfect in half a dozen or more penalty killing missions in the same game was Oct. 30, 2010 in a 7-2 win over the Flames in Calgary.
Saturday's win over the Stars was Washington's first regulation win in the city of Dallas in nearly 24 years, since Oct. 17, 1995. The Stars owned a 13-0-4 home record in the Caps' previous 17 visits to Big D. More importantly, the win halted a three-game slide (0-1-2) for Washington, which lost hold of third period leads in each of those three straight losses.
"I think we took care of it," says Caps defenseman John Carlson, of the team's third period woes. "I think those first couple of shifts really set the tone. We talked about it enough the past couple days and, and certainly today going into the third. I think that first couple shifts really got everyone on board doing the right things and carried the momentum there."
Carlson continues to have one of the hottest sticks in the league, with 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in six games to lead all Caps skaters and all NHL defensemen. Carlson scored the game-winner on Saturday to support Ilya Samsonov (24 saves) who won for the second time in as many starts this season.
Washington's fourth line manufactured Carlson's Saturday night goal on the forecheck, preventing the Stars from clearing the zone cleanly. Carlson flagged down the muffled clearing attempt at the point, then finished a give-and-go play with Garnet Hathaway to give the Caps a 2-0 lead just ahead of the midpoint of the middle period.
"We just try and play with energy," says winger Brendan Leipsic, who has been strong on the left side of that line in the early going. "We try and keep it simple out there, put pucks where we know we can try and get them back. We try and read off of each other on the forecheck. All three of us are good skaters - even if Chandler [Stephenson] is in there, too. We can all get in on the forecheck, and when we turn pucks over, we've got enough skill. Like you saw we can make plays, too."
The Caps have earned at least a point in five of six games at the outset of the season, and their 3-1-2 start after half a dozen games is their best since 2015-16 when they went 5-1-0 in the first six games.
Along with the 5-0-0 Edmonton Oilers, the Avalanche is one of just two teams in the league with an unblemished record. Colorado kept it that way by virtue of its 3-2 overtime win over the Arizona Coyotes in Denver on Saturday night. Ex-Caps winger Andre Burakovsky delivered the game-winner in that game, marking his second straight game-winning goal for the Avs.
Monday's game marks Burakovsky's first game as a visiting player at Capital One Arena, where he began his career with a goal in his first game with the Caps on Oct. 9, 2014. The Caps traded Burakovsky to Colorado on June 28, obtaining a second- and third-round pick from the Avs in return. In four games with the Avalanche, Burakovsky has four points (two goals, two assists).
Former Caps goalie Philipp Grubauer is also off to a strong start for Colorado this season, Grubauer has started and won three of the Avs' four games to date, posting a 2.34 GAA and a .931 save pct. in the process. Last season was Grubauer's first with the Avalanche, and he won a career high 18 games (18-9-5), while matching his career best with three shutouts.
Colorado opened the season with a four-game homestand, running the table. Monday's game in the District is the Avs' first road game of the season, and it starts a season-high six-game road trip for Colorado. After Monday's visit to DC, the Avalanche is off to Pittsburgh, Florida, Tampa Bay. St. Louis and Vegas. Colorado doesn't play at home again until Oct. 26 when it hosts Anaheim in the opener of a three-game homestand.