Oct. 29 vs. Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome
Time: 9:00 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, Capitals Radio 24/7
Washington Capitals 5-5-1
Calgary Flames 5-6-0
The Capitals come to the end of their first extended road trip of the 2017-18 season on Sunday night when they face the Flames in Calgary. Having split the first two games of the trip, Sunday's finale will be the rubber match of the journey for Washington.
Three times this month the Capitals have won the front end of a set of back-to-back games on the road. Twice previously, they failed to sweep the set, losing in regulation on the second night. For the third straight weekend, the Caps started off a set of back-to-backs with a triumph, this one over the Oilers on Saturday night in Edmonton. Once again, they'll try to finish off the sweep, this time against the Flames in Calgary.
Washington earned a 5-2 win over the Oilers in Edmonton on Saturday, spotting its hosts a 2-0 first period lead before scoring five unanswered goals to halt a two-game slide. The Caps got excellent goaltending and penalty killing in Saturday's win, and they also got great games from their best players as well as some key secondary scoring.
Evgeny Kuznetsov scored a pair of third-period goals to break open a 2-2 game, and Alex Ovechkin contributed three assists. Although they were held off the scoresheet, top six forwards Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie also turned in 18-plus minutes of solid work on Saturday night against the Oilers.
"I thought our leaders - Ovi was really good tonight, [and so were] Kuzy, Backy, Oshie," says Caps coach Barry Trotz. "You talk about your key guys on the back end, John Carlson and Brooks Orpik and then obviously Braden [Holtby] in net. And the young guys were good, too.
"Everybody had a piece of this victory, and that's how we are going to be successful."
The game was a strong bounce-back contest for the Capitals, who were on the wrong end of a 6-2 whipping on Thursday night in Vancouver. Having lost two straight in regulation heading into Saturday's game, the Caps were confronted with the possibility of being saddled with their first three-game regulation losing streak in more than two and a half years - since Feb. 22-27, 2015.
Instead, they're now hoping to be able to string together consecutive wins for the first time since they won the first two games of the season to start out 2-0-0.
"I hope so," says Holtby, who earned his fifth win of the season on Saturday. "I think the way we played in the last 10 minutes of the third, if we use that right and if we realize that's how we have to play, we're going to have success. There were still times in this game where we know we have to be better. We got fortunate on a few things. But there were definitely times throughout this game where we played the game that we need to play to win consistently, and that's a good thing.
"You take little bits of every game and you try to build for the next one. We keep building that way. As long as we are focused on that and we are realistic, we are going to have success."
With one game remaining in the month of October and one game remaining on the trip, Sunday's game will decide whether the Caps have a "winning" trip and if they have a "winning" month of October. The Caps carry a 5-5-1 record into Sunday's game with the Flames.
Despite playing four of its first six games on the road, Calgary won four of its first six, taking three of those victories away from the Saddledome. But the Flames have dropped four of five since, with their lone win over that span coming via the shootout.
Calgary has surrendered a power-play goal against in each of its last five games, and it has permitted two such tallies in each of its last three games. The Flames have gone just 3-for-9 (33.3%) on the kill in their last three games.
Since taking their home opener over the Winnipeg Jets in a 6-3 win on Oct. 7, the Flames have lost four straight on home ice while being outscored 14-4 in the process.
Most recently, the Flames started off a season-high seven-game homestand with a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Friday night at Saddledome. Despite permitting only seven goals at even strength over their last five games, the Flames are 1-4-0 over that stretch because they've given up at least one on the power play in each of those games.
Calgary returned to the playoffs last spring for the second time in three seasons, only to be ousted in a first-round sweep at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks.