Sunday brings the Chicago Blackhawks to Verizon Center to close out the Capitals’ 2011 exhibition season. The Caps enter the game with a 2-3-1 mark during the pre-season while Chicago checks in with an identical record. Puck drop is at 5 p.m.
The Capitals won their most recent contest, a 4-3 shootout triumph over the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center on Friday. The Caps scored first in that game, then rallied from deficits of 2-1 and 3-2 to even the score and force overtime before winning the skills competition.
Six games into the preseason, the Caps have yet to score more than three goals in any one game. Washington had its top six defensemen in the lineup for the first time in the pre-season on Friday, but it still hasn’t dressed all of its top offensive weapons in the same game.
Mike Knuble sat out the Sabres contest. He scored 24 goals last season and has a streak of eight straight seasons with 20 or more goals to his credit. Washington is expected to have its top nine forwards dressed and in the lineup on Sunday against Chicago.
The Capitals reassigned goaltender Braden Holtby to Hershey of the AHL on Saturday. Holtby had been recalled for a few days worth of practice and to back up Tomas Vokoun on Friday against Buffalo after Michal Neuvirth came down with a minor ailment.
Neuvirth is back at 100 percent and he is expected to get the start in Sunday’s exhibition finale against the Blackhawks.
Two of the Caps’ most effective forwards during the pre-season are ailing, however. Jay Beagle sat out Saturday’s practice with a minor injury, but hopes to be able to play on Sunday against Chicago. Matt Hendricks suffered an injury during Saturday’s practice session, and he won’t be playing in Sunday’s game against the Hawks.
The Hawks defeated the Caps 3-2 in Chicago on Sept. 23 in the first pre-season meeting between the two teams this season.
Chicago comes into Sunday’s game on the heels of a 4-2 home ice loss to Pittsburgh on Friday. The setback was the Hawks’ first on home ice in the pre-season since a 3-2 overtime loss to the Capitals on Sept. 19, 2009.
The Blackhawks open their 2011-12 regular season slate with a home-and-home set of contests against the Dallas Stars this Friday in Dallas and Saturday in Chicago.
Sunday’s game will be telecast on The NHL Network and on WGN in Chicago.