Back To Back - The Caps finish off their second set of back-to-back games this season on Friday night in Vancouver when they take on the Canucks for the first of two times this season. On Thursday night, the Caps were let a 3-1 third period lead slip away as they suffered a 4-3 overtime loss to the Oilers in Edmonton. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl co-authored a trio of goals in a span of just over 17 minutes late in the game to erase the Washington advantage and deliver a pair of points to the Oilers.
Meanwhile, the Canucks have been cooling their heels here in beautiful Vancouver since Tuesday, when they finished a four-game road trip with a 5-2 win over the Red Wings in Detroit. The Canucks won three of four (3-1-0) on the trip, and are opening a two-game homestand against Washington tonight, while the Caps are playing their third game in four nights and their fourth in the last six.
Pain, Pain Go Away - The Caps lost Carl Hagelin for a brief period of time in the second period of Thursday's game. Hagelin lost his footing and crashed into the end boards swiftly and violently. He left the bench and went down the tunnel, but did return later in the period.
Washington has another player or two with various ailments as well, and those injuries, combined with the lack of a morning skate on the second of back-to-backs, leaves us in the dark on the lineup for the Caps in Vancouver. We'll Tweet them when we see them in warmups, and what you see below is how the Caps lined up last night, not how we expect to look tonight.
"We do have a couple of game time decisions," says Caps coach Todd Reirden. "So we'll let you know that as we get closer to game time.
"There are a few guys, so we're seeing how everyone is responding here when they get some treatment, and then we'll go from there with the players that we have available."
The Caps were excellent in the second period of Thursday's game, they were sleepy in the first, and they struggled in the third. So in addition to looking for a more consistent 60-minute effort from his charges tonight, Reirden would like some diversity from his forward corps. Against Edmonton, Alex Ovechkin and Jakub Vrana accounted for all three Washington goals, and the duo accounted for half of all shots and shot attempts from the Caps' forward corps.
"That will kind of go into some of our thoughts for the lineup tonight," acknowledges Reirden, "looking at different ways to get four lines of contributions, especially in back-to-back games. So for me, going back to your original thought about playing the way we do in the second period, that's really how you need to play the entire game in a back-to-back where you're managing the puck properly, and you're allowing short shifts to happen, and not getting trapped on the ice for long shifts and you get extended times of in-zone back-to-back shifts. That's when you need all four lines going.
"So it will be a challenge tonight. This team has played well, they're sitting here fresh waiting for us, so it will be a good challenge."
In The Nets - Ilya Samsonov gets the net for the Caps on Friday night in Vancouver. Braden Holtby started each of the last four games, putting together a strong 3-0-1 run. Playing their second game in as many nights, the Caps will turn to Samsonov, who is 3-1-0 on the season and a perfect 3-0-0 in his three starts. The 22-year-old rookie has posted a 1.84 GAA and a .933 save pct. over the first month of his NHL career.
For the Canucks, we're expecting to see Jacob Markstrom in net. He is off to a solid start this season, winning four of his six starts (4-2-0) and posting a 2.15 GAA and a .933 save pct. in the process. Markstrom hails from the same part of the world as Caps center Nicklas Backstrom - Gavle, Sweden - and he is still seeking his first career win over Backstrom's team. Lifetime against Washington, Markstrom is 0-7-0 with a 3.40 GAA and an .896 save pct.
All Lined Up - This is how the Caps looked on Thursday in Edmonton and how the Canucks looked at their Thursday practice session:
8-Ovechkin, 19-Backstrom, 77-Oshie
62-Hagelin, 92-Kuznetsov, 43-Wilson
13-Vrana, 20-Eller, 21-Hathaway
28-Leipsic, 26-Dowd, 18-Stephenson
14-Panik (upper body)
9-Miller, 40-Pettersson, 6-Boeser
70-Pearson, 53-Horvat, 18-Virtanen
79-Ferland, 20-Sutter, 17-Leivo
59-Schaller, 83-Beagle, 64-Motte
26-Roussel (lower body)