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Caps Head to Music City

After two OT losses at home, the Caps start a two-game trip in Nashville on Thursday

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps / washingtoncaps.com

Oct. 10 vs. Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena

Time: 7:00 p.m.

TV: NBCSW

Radio: Capitals Radio 24/7, Fan 106.7

 

Washington Capitals 2-0-2

Nashville Predators 2-0-1

The Caps take to the road once again, heading out on a two-game trip to take on a pair of traditionally difficult Western Conference foes. The first stop is in Nashville, where Washington faces the Predators on Thursday night. The Caps will conclude the tour on Saturday night in Dallas with a rematch against the Stars.

Dallas came into D.C. and rallied late for a 4-3 overtime victory over Washington on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena. The Stars came into the game winless on the season, and their victory leaves the Caps winless in their first two home games (0-0-2) for the first time since 2014-15 (0-0-2).

Tuesday's game marked the second straight game in which the Caps couldn't close out a late lead and had to settle instead for a single point. Washington roared out of the gates in the first period of Tuesday's loss, dominating Dallas in terms of possession and territory, forcing turnovers and buzzing around the offensive zone. But all that skating and buzzing resulted in just a 1-0 lead for Washington, and the Stars were able to even the score on a Caps turnover in the second minute of the second period.

"The first period was probably our best period this season," says Caps center Lars Eller. "Everybody played the right way, we pinned them in their own zone. They didn't have a ton [of chances], so I think that was really good. And then I think we got a little sloppy. We started turning over pucks and let them back in the game, and then it just got away from us."

Dallas rebounded somewhat in the second, but the Caps were still seemingly in control of the contest. They led the Stars 2-1 after 40 minutes, and started the third period with 27 seconds worth of carryover power play time.

But after limiting the Stars to just 11 shots on net in the game's first 40 minutes, the Caps watched as Dallas doubled that total - and tied the game - in just the first eight minutes of the third, all while holding Washington without a shot on goal during the same span.

Video: Postgame | October 8

"Certainly we carried the shot totals after two periods," says Caps coach Todd Reirden. "I think they were at 11 or 12 or whatever, but I actually felt that after the first period we kind of let them back in the game with how we managed the puck. A turnover through the neutral zone gives them their very little bit of offense, and they convert on it.

"We had a really successful blueprint for how to have a lot of offensive zone time and really carry the first period by putting pucks in behind their team and grinding them down, and we went away from that in the second period. That's something that was addressed, and something that we've got to continue to learn from our mistakes and get better. Like I said, I felt like it started to drift from us in the second."

Ahead of that two-game homestand, the Caps opened the season with two straight wins on the road, in St. Louis and on Long Island. Now they head into a couple of lion's dens in Nashville and Dallas, two towns where they've had some difficult results both recently and historically.

Washington owns a 5-8-1-1 record all time in the Music City, but the Caps have dropped three straight lopsided affairs here ,and they are 1-5-1 on their last seven visits, dating back to 2010-11. Washington has been outscored by at least three goals in each of its last three road games against the Predators, and it has been outscored by an aggregate of 18-7 in those three games.

Video: Todd Reirden | October 9

Nashville is finishing up a season-opening four-game homestand on Thursday. The Preds have taken two out of three on the homestand to date, earning wins over Minnesota and San Jose, respectively, sandwiched around a loss to Detroit.

The Preds have made the playoffs in each of the last five seasons, and they finished second in the competitive Central Division last season, reaching triple digit point totals for the seventh time in franchise history and the second straight season.

Like the Caps, Nashville bowed out in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring, losing a six-game set to Dallas. The Preds exited in the second round in 2018, following a franchise record 117-point season and the only Presidents' Trophy season in franchise history. The Predators made their first - and thus far only - trip to the Cup Final in 2017, losing a six-game set to Pittsburgh.

Over the summer, the Preds swapped defenseman P.K. Subban to New Jersey and also lost veteran forward Wayne Simmonds to the Devils via free agency. But Nashville inked top six center Matt Duchene, and the Preds are rotating their stock on defense by bringing Dante Fabbro into the mix this season.

The 21-year-old Fabbro was the Preds' first-round pick (17th overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft. After three seasons at Boston University, Fabbro signed with the Preds last spring and got into four late-season games with Nashville, picking up his first NHL goal in the process. He has a goal in three games this season while averaging just over 19 minutes a night, skating the right side of a pairing with Mattias Ekholm.

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