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Holtby back in net for Capitals against Stars

by John Kreiser /

CAPITALS (1-1-0) at STARS (0-1-0)


Season series: The Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars are meeting for the first time since Nov. 8, 2011, and the Capitals are making their first visit to American Airlines Center since Dec. 2, 2010. Each of those games was a victory by the Stars, who've won the past three meetings. They won't see each other again for nearly six months, until the Stars come to Verizon Center on April 1.

Big story: Washington's offense, particularly the power play, began the season in high gear. The defense and goaltending, on the other hand, are struggling. Washington overcame a 3-0 deficit to beat the Calgary Flames 5-4 in a shootout Thursday, two nights after a 6-4 road loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Stars opened their season Thursday but were unable to hold a third-period lead and lost 4-2 to the Florida Panthers.

Team Scope:

Capitals: Washington coach Adam Oates hooked starting goaltender Braden Holtby after he allowed three first-period goals against the Flames. But Oates wasted no time assuring Holtby he'd be back in goal against the Stars, and Holtby said he wasn't upset by the quick hook.

"It happens," he said of being pulled in the first period. "It's probably the worst feeling in hockey, but at that point in the game it's the coach's obligation to make changes to keep the game within reach. It obviously worked [Thursday]. That's what happens; it's the nature of the sport. If you don't perform, you don't play. It's as simple as that."

The Capitals were able to get the game into a shootout partly because of the success of their power play. Washington went 2-for-3 with the extra man against Calgary and is 5-for-9 (55.6 percent) in two games.

Stars: The start of the new era was going well until the Panthers spoiled the party with three goals in the latter stages of the third period, turning a 2-1 lead into a season-opening loss. Dallas allowed Florida, not known as an offensive powerhouse, to fire 39 shots at goaltender Kari Lehtonen, something that left new coach Lindy Ruff unhappy.

"I hate 39 shots. When you start the game the way we started (one shot against in the first eight minutes), so you are looking at 38 shots in the next 52 minutes," he said Friday. "For me, there's no excuse for that. Our puck management, some of the things we did with the puck, we didn't do even in camp. Some of the high-risk stuff, you're not going to win games playing like that. We know that. The good part is that the players know that. They're angry today, as well they should be."

Who's hot: Washington forwards Ovechkin and Mikhail Grabovski had five points to share the NHL scoring lead. Ovechkin had two goals and an assist against the Flames; Grabovski had a hat trick against Chicago. … Dallas defenseman Brenden Dillon figured in both Dallas goals against Florida, earning an assist before scoring a shorthanded goal.

Injury report: Capitals defenseman Jack Hillen will be out for what Oates called "an extended period of time" after undergoing surgery Friday, one day after he was helped from the ice and unable to put any weight on his right leg following a hit by Calgary forward Lance Bouma. … Dallas will be at full strength with the return of center Rich Peverley, who's expected to be in the lineup after being sidelined due to an irregular heartbeat.

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