Caps take on Varlamov, Avalanche

( - The Washington Capitals will try to bounce back from their first loss in November when they visit the Colorado Avalanche for Sunday's clash at the Pepsi Center.

The Capitals had won four straight to open the new month before dropping a shootout decision Saturday in Phoenix. Washington lost 4-3 to the Coyotes despite carrying a 3-1 lead into the third period.

Washington trailed the Coyotes 1-0 after 20 minutes, but used second-period goals from Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward and John Carlson to seemingly take control of the game. However, Shane Doan and Lauri Korpikoski evened things for Phoenix in the third and Antoine Vermette scored the winner in the shootout.

Vermette buried the first shot of the shootout past Michal Neuvirth and Mikhail Grabovski lost control of the puck making a move. Mikkel Boedker then flew down the ice and deked to the backhand before lifting it high into the net, and Alex Ovechkin missed his chance to give Phoenix the win.

"This one slipped away from us," Carlson said. "It's unacceptable."

Neuvirth stopped 32 shots in the loss. Braden Holtby expects to get the start on Sunday and has never faced the Avalanche in his career.

The Caps are closing a brief two-game road trip on Sunday and fell to 3-4-1 as the visiting team after the loss in Phoenix.

Colorado, meanwhile, lost for just the second time this season in Wednesday's 6-4 home setback against Nashville, but the Avs were right back in the win column on Friday, downing the visiting Calgary Flames by a 4-2 score.

Both of Colorado's losses this season have come on home ice, as the Avalanche are 7-2-0 at the Pepsi Center compared to a 6-0 mark on the road. The Avs are completing a four-game homestand on Sunday before playing two straight and four of the next six away from the Mile High City,

Jean-Sebastien Giguere posted 30 saves to remain perfect on the season and help Colorado beat the Flames on Friday. Giguere improved to 5-0-0 and has allowed just five goals this year to help the Avalanche improve to 13-2-0 on the season, matching the franchise record for the best start to a campaign set by the Quebec Nordiques in 1995.

"It's big. That was a big game for us," said Giguere. "After going 12-1 and you lose a game, it would be easy to go into bad habits. We should be pretty happy with this."

Ryan O'Reilly registered a goal and an assist, while John Mitchell, Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny added a goal apiece in the victory.

The Avs will turn to former Capitals goaltender Semyon Varlamov in net tonight. Varlamov spent his first three NHL seasons in D.C. before being traded to Colorado following the 2010-11 campaign.

The 25-year-old Russian will make his second career appearance against his former club after posting the win in a 5-1 triumph in Washington on Oct. 12.

The Avalanche have taken three straight and four of the last five meetings with Washington, but the clubs have split the past four encounters staged in Denver.