Dec. 6 vs. Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena
Time: 9:00 p.m.
Radio: Capitals Radio 24/7, FAN 106.7
Washington Capitals 15-9-3
Arizona Coyotes 13-11-2
The Caps' three-game road trip continues on Thursday night from Arizona, where they'll take on the Coyotes for the second and final time this season. Just under a month ago in Washington, the Desert Dogs handed the Caps a 4-1 defeat in the first meeting between the two clubs in 2018-19.
Video: Two-Man Advantage | December 6
Washington's trip got off on a sour note on Tuesday night in Vegas as the Caps returned to Sin City for the first time since winning the franchise's first ever Stanley Cup championship there on June 7. The Caps dropped a 5-3 seesaw decision to the Golden Knights, uncharacteristically losing a game in which they led going into the third period.
Of more immediate concern is the health of right wing Tom Wilson, who left Tuesday's game late in the second period after being on the receiving end of a blindside hit from Vegas' Ryan Reaves. Reaves' check popped Wilson's helmet off, and the Caps winger hit his head on the ice upon landing. Wilson was down on the ice for a minute or so, and had to be helped to his feet and then helped off the ice with the aid of two teammates.
At that time of the contest, the Caps were leading 2-1, but their inability to expand that slim lead on the ensuing five-minute power play contributed to their undoing. Washington went 0-for-4 on the power play against Vegas, managing just three shots on net in 10:38 worth of extra-man time.
The Golden Knights scored the game's first goal on the power play in the third minute of the game, and ex-Caps defenseman Nate Schmidt scored the game-winner on the man advantage in the penultimate minute of the contest when the Caps were just 85 seconds shy of getting out of town with at least a point.
Now, they'll move on to Glendale, looking to get back on the winning track after a pair of setbacks interrupted what was a seven-game winning streak. A bit of a special teams hiccup has contributed to their successive losses, but the Caps were pleased with their five-on-five game against Vegas. Washington limited Vegas to just 13 shots on net in over 38 minutes of even-strength time on Tuesday.
"Really liked [our five-on-five game]," said Caps coach Todd Reirden after the loss in Vegas. "To hold a team like that to 13 shots in their building - I liked our compete, i liked our battle, five-on-five, you know coming back [to tie it in the third on a] huge goal by Vrana.
"Some really good things here, and special teams decided it. That's always an important part of winning every game. In particular tonight. special teams were a major factor. For me, our team coming into this building, our battle level, our commitment to doing a lot of things and holding that team to 13 shots, it's a strong five-on-five game for us."
Video: Todd Reirden Pregame | December 6
Arizona hasn't been a friendly stop on the circuit for the Capitals over the years. In half a dozen visits to Glendale since Alex Ovechkin scored "The Goal" here in Jan. of 2006, the Caps are just 1-4-1, scoring two or fewer goals in four of those six games.
The Coyotes are coming in hot to Thursday's contest, too. They've won four straight games, outscoring the opposition by a combined 15-5 in the process.
At season's outset, the Coyotes relied on a goaltending tandem of Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper, the latter of which defeated the Caps in Washington on Nov. 11. But with Raanta and Kuemper both sidelined, the Coyotes have had to rely on rookie Adin Hill, the netminder of record throughout their current winning run.
Hill has stopped 84 of 86 shots in winning four straight appearances, three of them starts. He authored his first NHL shutout over the Predatiors in Nashvill on Nov. 29, a 29-save effort. A 22-year-old native of Britich Columbia, Hill was Arizona's third-round pick (76th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Arizona recently claimed goaltender Calvin Pickard off waivers from Philadelphia to serve as a backup to Hill. The Flyers had claimed Pickard from Toronto in October, and the Coyotes are the fourth stop on the NHL tour for the former 2nd-round pick from 2010.