Jan. 13 vs. Carolina Hurricanes at Capital One Arena
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Radio: Capitals Radio 24/7, 106.7 FAN
Carolina Hurricanes 27-16-2
Washington Capitals 30-11-5
The Caps continue their three-game homestand on Monday night when they host the Carolina Hurricanes in the finale of the season's series between the two Metropolitan Division rivals. Monday's game is the third between the Caps and the Hurricanes in a span of 17 days, and Washington is 1-1-1 in its three prior games with Carolina this season.
Video: Todd Reirden | January 12
Washington faced Carolina in Raleigh on Jan. 3 in its first game of the New Year. That game also marked the first time this season that the Caps headed into a game on the heels of losing two consecutive contests in regulation. The Caps avoided a third straight setback by downing the Canes 4-3 in the first of what would become a three-game winning streak. But the Caps will again come into Monday's game with the Canes having dropped two straight in regulation, both of them to Metropolitan Division opponents.
After falling 3-2 to the Flyers in Philadelphia on Wednesday, the Caps opened the homestand on Saturday night against the New Jersey Devils. Washington put forth perhaps its worst overall performance of the season, taking a 5-1 loss to New Jersey, which entered the game ranked 29th in the league in goals for and 30th in goals against.
Three weeks earlier in Newark, the Caps skated off with a 6-3 win over the Devils on the strength of six goals at 5-on-5. In Saturday's rematch, journeyman goaltender Louis Domingue and the Devils shut Washington down at 5-on-5, as Domingue stopped 33 of the 34 shots he faced to claim his second win of the season.
"Our execution with the puck was careless and times, and not at the level that we expect to play at," said Caps coach Todd Reirden after Saturday's loss. "We've established here being able to complete passes, put pucks behind their defense and allow our team to forecheck, things that are our identity, playing a heavy game. We did not do that tonight and as a result we lost."
Saturday's win was New Jersey's first regulation win in Washington in more than five years, and its first win by more than one goal in the District in nearly eight years.
Since roaring out of the gates with 22 wins in their first 31 games (22-4-5), the Caps have been a much more pedestrian 8-7-0 in 15 games since. They've surrendered an average of 3.33 goals per game in those 15 games, which is tied for 20th in the league over that span.
"If we are going to outwork the opponent and we manage the puck, then we're going to be just fine," says Reirden. "But when we don't, then we're going to continue to waver and struggle, and win some and lose some, and make it a game of chance. And right now, that's happening too often. Three games here to push forward, and obviously an important game against Carolina [Monday]."
Monday's game is one of three remaining for the Capitals ahead of their bye week/All-Star break, and as Reirden notes, the focus is on pulling as many of those six available points as possible between now and Saturday's matinee with the Islanders in New York, their last game before the break.
Video: Rinkside Update | T.J. Oshie
"I think we just simplify some things," says Caps right wing T.J. Oshie. "Our execution has got to get a lot better. We've got a great team in here, and a lot of hard-working guys, and a lot of character. We're not panicking by any means. We had a good meeting [Sunday], and we've got some things we've got to clean up. I trust everyone is going to do them, and come to the rink ready to work, and get back to having fun. That's when we're playing best, when we're joking around and having fun in the locker room."
The Hurricanes just concluded a seven-game homestand on which they forged a 5-2-0 record. The Caps were in Raleigh twice on that homestand, falling 6-4 on Dec. 28 and winning 4-3 on Jan. 3. Carolina concluded the homestand with a pair of shutout wins over Arizona and Los Angeles, respectively, in a set of back-to-backs on Friday and Saturday.
Monday's game starts a brief two-game road tour for the Canes, who will journey on to Columbus for a Thursday night meeting with the Blue Jackets before returning to Raleigh for another long homestand; this next one is five games in duration.
Eleven different Canes have scored in the team's three games against the Capitals this season, and Carolina is 4-for-13 (30.8 percent) with the extra man against Washington in 2019-20. The Caps have yielded a dozen goals in three games against Carolina, but they've limited the Canes to just five goals at 5-on-5 in those contests.