Three nights after they opened their 2010-11 pre-season slate with a 6-2 victory over the Blue Jackets in Columbus, the Caps take to the road for the second of their six-game schedule of exhibition tilts. Washington heads to Nashville for a Saturday night date with the Predators.
Matt Hendricks’ hat trick paced the Washington attack in Wednesday’s opener. Tomas Fleischmann supplied a pair of goals and Cody Eakin notched his first NHL pre-season goal in his first NHL pre-season game. Marcus Johansson recorded a pair of assists – including a terrific feed for Hendricks’ first goal – in his NHL pre-season debut. Semyon Varlamov made 20 stops and Braden Holtby made 17 saves in a relief effort as the Caps coasted to a win.
Hendricks, Eakin and Johansson will all be in Saturday night’s lineup along with four other players who skated against the Jackets three nights ago. Goaltender Michal Neuvirth will get the start for Washington; Dany Sabourin will also make the trip.
“I look for more of the same,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau of Johansson, “and to see how consistent he can be with more offensive wingers. Even though his line got three goals last game, let’s see how he does.
“The only way we’ll really, truly learn about him is to play him. Cody Eakin is the same way. Matty Perreault is the same way. These guys have got to play a lot of games. [Jay] Beagle, who is playing tonight, and [Steve] Pinizzotto, [Francois] Bouchard. These guys had great years in Hershey. They deserve … some games. We’ve got to be able to see if A) they can be call-ups or B) be regulars on this team.”
After tonight’s tilt in Nashville, the Caps practice on Sunday and Monday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in preparation for a home-and-home exhibition set with the Boston Bruins. Washington opens the home portion of its pre-season slate when it hosts the B’s at Verizon Center on Tuesday. The two teams then head to Boston for a Wednesday night date in Beantown.
Nashville will be playing its third game in as many nights. The Preds split a pair of games with Carolina on Friday and Saturday. Nashville dropped a 3-1 decision on home ice Thursday night but gained a measure of revenge with a 2-1 win over the Canes in Carolina on Friday.
The Predators’ Saturday night lineup will include starting goaltender Pekka Rinne, elite defenseman Shea Weber, key off-season addition Matthew Lombardi and 30-goal scorer (in 2009-10) Patric Hornqvist.
Predators general manager David Poile – the only general manager the team has ever known – served in the same post in Washington from 1982-97. Nashville head coach Barry Trotz is the only bench boss the Preds have ever had. He won a Calder Cup championship while coaching Washington’s top farm team (at the time), the AHL Portland Pirates in 1994.