Less than 24 hours after playing their only home game in the second half of February, the Capitals are right back out on the road. Their quick stop home resulted in a 2-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night, and they'll be right back in action with a late Saturday afternoon game against the Predators in Nashville.
Only 22 hours will have elapsed between the start of Friday's game and the start of Saturday's, and that's the minimum allowable time between contests per the collective bargaining agreement. Saturday's game in Nashville carries a rather unusual 4 p.m. local start time, and there's a reason for that.
Tonight in Pittsburgh, the Penguins and the Flyers are playing an outdoor game at Heinz Field. The NHL wants all eyeballs on that game, so all other NHL games on this Saturday night are starting hours earlier or hours later so that 8 p.m. window can be set aside exclusively for the Pens-Flyers tilt.
That makes for a tough back-to-back for the Caps, who will be facing a rested Nashville team that is in the middle of a homestand.
Video: Trotz talks before #CapsPreds in Nashville
"Obviously it's a quick turnaround against a team that's really good at home," says Caps coach Barry Trotz. "It's a Saturday night, and as I know better than anybody, this is The Coliseum. [The crowd] really feeds off the energy.
"Their back end is really where it starts, with [Roman] Josi and [Ryan] Ellis and those guys. They can really transport the puck. Filip Forsberg is hot with back-to-back hat tricks here, and that line with [Ryan] Johansson and [Viktor] Arvidsson since he has been moved over there, he has really made that line go. They come at you hard with a real hard forecheck, and they shorten on the walls. They get a lot of movement from their back end.
"We're going to have to make sure that we manage the puck and we don't feed their transition game. Force them to play some [defense] and have a lot of detail, because they have some snipers in [James] Neal and Forsberg, and they've got some good role players in guys like [Mike] Fisher and [Vern] Fiddler, who do a real good job.
"They're in a real push for playoff position, and obviously they'll be in that playoff mode. This will be a real tough test for us."
Seeking 700 - Trotz earned his 699th NHL victory on Friday night against the Oilers, leaving him in position to nail down No. 700 here in Nashville where he has earned more of those victories (315) than in any other NHL arena. Trotz was the bench boss here in Music City for the first 15 seasons of the Predators' franchise existence.
"I spent a lot of time here, and I got a lot of wins here," says Trotz. "I've been very fortunate to coach a lot of great players here and then obviously in Washington now. But I have a lot of memories and a lot of friends [here], so it would be special to get one of those milestone wins in one of your old haunts.
"But it's going to happen; it doesn't matter if it's here or somewhere else. But I'm very thankful to have so many good players and the lengthy career to this point that I've had."
Working Man - Caps defenseman Taylor Chorney logged a single-game season high of 18:37 on Friday night against Edmonton, the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Chorney broke into the league with the Oilers, and he skated in 59 games with Edmonton over parts of four seasons.
Chorney also earned an assist for the second straight game, marking the third time in his NHL career that he has picked up a point in two straight games. Chorney appeared in each of the last two contests for the Caps after sitting out the previous nine as a healthy scratch.
Chorney skated with Brooks Orpik on Wednesday in Philadelphia and was paired with Dmitry Orlov on Friday against the Oilers. The Caps are 13-1-2 in the 16 games for which Chorney has suited up this season.
"Chore was good," said Trotz after Friday's game. "I think the first game there was some rust definitely. Every game he has had a new partner here, but he did some great things. He is such a strong skater. He understands how Orly plays and I think they're a real good complement to each other."
In The Nets - Philipp Grubauer gets the net for Washington this afternoon in Nashville. Grubauer has won seven of his last 10 starts and has earned at least a point in 10 of his last 13 (8-3-2). ON the season, he is 10-4-2 with three shutouts, a 1.98 GAA and a .932 save pct.
For the Preds, Juuse Saros gets the crease on Saturday. Saros is 6-5-3 with a 2.23 GAA and a .929 save pct. in 14 appearances this season. He has surrendered three or more goals in each of his last four starts.
All Lined Up - Without benefit of a morning skate for either side, we're not positive how the Caps or the Predators will line up for Saturday's game at Bridgestone Arena. But here's our best guess:
8-Ovechkin, 19-Backstrom, 10-Connolly
90-Johansson, 92-Kuznetsov, 14-Williams
82-Sanford, 20-Eller, 24-Barber
26-Winnik, 83-Beagle, 43-Wilson
2-Niskanen (lower body)
44-Orpik (lower body)
77-Oshie (upper body)
9-Forsberg, 92-Johansen, 38-Arvidsson
56-Fiala, 12-Fisher, 15-Smith
33-Wilson, 19-Jarnkrok, 18-Neal
26-Zolnierczyk, 83-Fiddler, 51-Watson
52-Irwin, 7-Y. Weber
20-Salomaki (lower body)