Two nights after finishing up the road portion of their 2011 pre-season schedule with a 4-1 setback at the hands of the Predators in Nashville, the Capitals are back home to host a pair of weekend games to close out the exhibition campaign. Friday night brings the Buffalo Sabres into the District for a Verizon Center visit.
The Caps are 1-3-1 on the pre-season to date, with their lone win a 3-1 home ice triumph over the Columbus Blue Jackets this past Monday night. Chris Bourque had three assists in that game, but he was one of three players trimmed from Washington camp roster on Thursday.
Goaltender Braden Holtby was recalled from Hershey on Thursday to practice with the team because Michal Neuvirth experienced what coach Bruce Boudreau termed “some tightness,” and because the Capitals have been exercising extra caution when it comes to even the most minor of ailments during camp this fall. The recall of Holtby leaves the Capitals with 27 players currently on the camp roster.
Although the Caps’ Mathieu Perreault scored the game’s first goal in Wednesday’s game in Nashville, Washington went through a lengthy lull at both ends of the ice for a prolonged stretch immediately thereafter. During a span of 33:19 that stretched to the end of the second period in the game against the Predators, the Caps were outshot 20-6 and outscored 3-0.
The Capitals came out with more authority in the third, and their continued and consistent presence in the attack zone in the first half of the final frame led to three power play opportunities in a short span of time, and a chance to cut into what was merely a two-goal deficit at the time. Washington’s extra-man attack also managed to provide a fair amount of attack zone time and presence, but was ultimately unable to solve Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne.
Through five pre-season games, the Capitals have managed to score a total of just nine goals.
Buffalo is 4-1 in its five pre-season tilts, and the stingy Sabres have allowed a meager total of just nine goals in those five contests.
The Sabres won four straight games to start the exhibition season before suffering their lone loss, a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Blue Jackets in Columbus last Sunday. Friday night’s game is Buffalo’s final pre-season tune-up before the Sabres head overseas to open the season with games against Anaheim and Los Angeles in Finland next weekend.
Under the new ownership of Terry Pegula, the Sabres made some big ticket additions to their roster over the summer. Defensemen Christian Ehrhoff and Robyn Regehr and forward Ville Leino were among Buffalo’s off-season improvements. The addition of those two veteran defensemen left ex-Cap Shaone Morrisonn on the outside looking in, and he was waived and subsequently reassigned to Rochester of the AHL without even getting into a single pre-season contest.
After returning to the States, the Sabres will host Carolina in their HSBC Arena home opener on Oct. 14. The Caps get their first regular season look at the Sabres on Nov. 26 when they travel to Buffalo.