Capitals try to pick up rare victory in Dallas
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Capitals will try to win consecutive games when they visit the Dallas Stars for Saturday's battle at American Airlines Center.
The Capitals opened the season with a 6-4 setback in Chicago, but earned a 5-4 comeback victory in their first home game of the season on Thursday. Washington trailed the visiting Calgary Flames by three goals on two separate occasions in the home opener at Verizon Center, but Alex Ovechkin scored twice to help the Caps mount a successful comeback.
Washington fell behind 3-0 in the first period and Caps starting goaltender Braden Holtby was pulled after surrendering the first three goals on eight shots.
After cutting the deficit to 3-1 early in the second period, the Flames restored their three-goal edge with Lance Bouma's tally. However, Ovechkin scored twice in the final 10 minutes of the middle stanza and Nicklas Backstrom evened the game at 4-4 with 5:50 left in the third.
Ovechkin and Mikhail Grabovski were both successful in the shootout phase and Michal Neuvirth, who replaced Holtby, stopped two Calgary tries in the deciding phase.
"We talked about how we had 40 minutes to try to get it back," said Capitals coach Adam Oates. "We talked about a couple things we did wrong in the first period and not to give them another one. We wanted our (defense) to be more involved, but not do crazy pinches and give them a free goal -- just stay focused and get it one at a time."
Despite his rough outing on Thursday, Holtby is expected to get the start in net again tonight.
Following Saturday's game, the Caps will head back to D.C., where the club is scheduled to begin a five-game homestand in Thursday's test against Carolina.
The Stars opened their season at home on Thursday but were dealt a 4-2 setback by Tim Thomas and the Florida Panthers. Marcel Goc scored the winner with 4:55 to go and added an empty-netter for Florida, while Thomas turned aside 25 shots in the win.
Lindy Ruff made his debut with the Stars, but the former longtime Buffalo Sabres head coach didn't like what he saw in his first game behind the Dallas bench.
"I expect to see a lot more battle," said Ruff, who spent 16 years coaching Buffalo. "We went by too many battles tonight. We didn't stop on pucks. And I really feel we built our preseason over most of that, and we took some of those plays for granted tonight."
Brenden Dillon had a goal and an assist while Alex Chiasson also scored for the Stars, who missed the playoffs for a fifth straight year last season. Kari Lehtonen allowed three goals on 38 shots.
After beginning the season with two straight home tests, the Stars will head out on a three-game road trip. The trek begins Friday in Winnipeg, giving Dallas five days off in between games.
The Caps and Stars didn't face each other in the lockout-shortened season of 2013, but Dallas has claimed three straight in the series and is 8-1-1 in its last 10 matchups against Washington.
The Stars also have taken four of the past five encounters in Big D and the Caps are 2-8-1 in Dallas since last winning on the road in this series on Oct. 17, 1995.
Washington will not have defenseman Jack Hillen tonight after he was injured in Thursday's game. Hillen left the game in the first period after getting slammed into the boards by Calgary's Bouma.