Nov. 3 vs. Calgary Flames at Capital One Arena
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Radio: Capitals Radio 24/7, 106.7 FAN
Calgary Flames 8-6-2
Washington Capitals 10-2-3
Washington finishes off a brief two-game homestand on Sunday night when it hosts the Calgary Flames. The game concludes the season's series between the two teams; the Caps downed the Flames 5-3 in Calgary on Oct. 22.
The Caps returned from their longest road trip of the season earlier this week, and they started the homestand and the November portion of their schedule with a 6-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night. The Caps scored four goals in just over four minutes in the first period, giving Braden Holtby (29 saves) more than enough offense for his sixth win of the season.
All six Washington goals were scored at 5-on-5, and the Caps didn't get their lone power play chance of the game until the penultimate minute of the third period. Washington faced only two penalty killing missions on the night in a game that was a far cry from the previous one, a 4-3 overtime victory over the Maple Leafs in Toronto. In that contest, the Caps had seven power play chances and the Leafs had eight.
Having more of a 5-on-5 game enabled the Caps to manage minutes better, and to ease players back into playing at home for the first time in two weeks.
"Especially when you're coming back from a trip," says Caps coach Todd Reirden, "just getting into the routine of being at home and you're around your family and doing different stuff that way, it's easier to focus on the road for a lot of players.
"We have so many guys that have young families and have a lot going on with that, so getting back into the home routine sometimes can be a cause for sporadic play at times. But I thought for our guys to come out and have a game like that, I wanted to have a 5-on-5 game where we could roll everybody and kind of get everybody going into the game, and that's how it worked out."
Video: Todd Reirden Postgame | November 1
For the 15th time in as many games this season, John Carlson led the Caps in ice time, but his 23:33 figure was the second lowest he has recorded in a game in 2019-20. Every Caps forward skated at least 10:48 at even strength, and none of the dozen forwards logged more than 16:46 on the night.
In four of the five games on the recently completed road trip, the Caps faced four or more penalty killing missions. Friday's game was the fifth time in 15 games they've been tasked with two or fewer shorthanded situations, but it was only the second such game in the last seven.
"You prepare for is it going to be another 15-penalty game," says Reirden. "That was crazy the other night in Toronto, and that's not really how I like hockey to be, so somewhere in the middle of [Friday night] and that game would be nice."
The Caps have been scoring goals in bunches of late. Their six-goal outburst against Buffalo is their biggest in 15 games this season, but they've also scored 15 goals in their last three games, and they've netted 33 goals in their last seven contests. On the season, Washington now leads the NHL with an average of 3.93 goals per game.
Since falling to the Caps late last month in Calgary, the Flames are 3-1-1. They are finishing off a five-game road trip of their own in the District on Sunday, and they are 2-1-1 on the trip to date.
The Flames were in action on Saturday night, facing the Blue Jackets in Columbus. Behind a 43-save effort from David Rittich, the Flames blanked the Jackets, 3-0. Sean Monahan scored the game's first goal, and it stood up as the game-winner in Rittich's second shutout of the season, and the third of his NHL career. The tally also ended a 13-game goal drought for Monahan.
Rittich's start on Saturday was his fifth in succession, and the Caps can probably expect to see veteran Cam Talbot on Sunday. Talbot's last action came against the Caps in Calgary on Oct. 22 in that aforementioned 5-3 Washington win.
After Sunday's game, the Flames will head home to open up a four-game homestand against Arizona on Tuesday.