Preview: Golden Knights at Capitals
The Washington Capitals saw their reign as Stanley Cup champions come to an end with a stunning first-round loss in the playoffs last season, but they have the look of the team that will be in the mix for another championship. Owners of the league's best record, the Capitals go for their sixth straight victory when they host the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night.
Washington, which played seven of its first nine on the road and went 7-1-1, continued its stellar play away from home by rallying for a 5-4 overtime victory at Florida on Thursday. “We weren’t as sharp as we can be, and the key to successful teams is trying to figure out ways to win when you are not at your best," coach Todd Reirden said after the Capitals extended their point streak to 10 games (9-0-1). The Golden Knights will be facing Washington for only the third time since the Capitals ended their magical inaugural season with a five-game win in the Stanley Cups Finals in June 2018. Vegas has played four consecutive one-goal decisions but has only win to show for it, losing in overtime three times during that span, including Thursday's 2-1 setback in Toronto.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, AT&T-Sportsnet-Rocky Mountain (Las Vegas), NBCS Washington
ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS (9-5-3): Vegas had only seven losses beyond regulation in each of its two seasons, so three overtime setbacks in an eight-day span is alarming, particularly after holding a third-period leads in each. “We’ve got to clean up the overtime,” forward Max Pacioretty said. “It feels like we’re not even getting chances, really, or even getting possession of the puck. We have to really figure that out, figure out why and really just work at it.” Pacioretty has scored in two of the past three but has five goals in 29 games versus Washington.
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (12-2-3): Washington has scored 24 times during the winning streak and has failed to register more than four goals only once during the 10-game point streak so the offense is certainly holding up its own. One major area of improvement is a penalty-killing unit that finished 28th last season but is now ranked eighth after snuffing out 15 of its last 17 short-handed situations. “It starts with the mind-set, guys that really want to kill and do it for the team and take pride in it and I think it starts there,” forward Carl Hagelin said.
1. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has eight goals in his last eight overall and scored three times in both matchups versus Vegas last season.
2. Veteran G Marc-Andre Fleury has allowed 10 goals in winning three of four regular season starts versus the Capitals since joining the Golden Knights.
3. Washington's power play was tied for fourth (25.9 percent) entering Friday while Vegas was tied for 11th (21.7).
PREDICTION: Capitals 3, Golden Knights 2