November 5 vs. New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Time: 7:00 pm TV: Comcast SportsNet Radio: 1500AM, XM and Caps Radio Network Pre-Game: Two-Man Advantage pre-game video at 2:00 p.m., John Walton’s one-on-one audio with Bruce Boudreau at 5 p.m. on washingtoncaps.com
Washington Capitals (9-2)
New York Islanders (3-5-2)
A night after taking a 5-1 road win over the Hurricanes in Carolina, the Caps finish off a quick two-game weekend road trip up the Eastern seaboard with their first visit of the season to Long Island. The Capitals take on the New York Islanders on Saturday night, seeking to extend their current winning run to three games.
This weekend’s contests are the Caps’ first set of games on back-to-back nights this season. This marks the second-latest stage of any season in Washington’s franchise history that the team has faced its first pair of back-to-backs. In 2009-10, the Caps’ first pair of back-to-back contests came on Oct. 29-30, in games 12-13 on the schedule. Although this season’s back-to-backs come later on the calendar, they come in games 11-12.
After surrendering the game’s first goal midway through the first frame on Friday in Carolina, the Caps got all the offense they would require in a span of just 69 seconds early in the second period. Jeff Halpern’s first of the season and Troy Brouwer’s third of the campaign gave Washington a lead it would not relinquish.
Washington killed three straight Carolina power play chances in the second period, denying the Hurricanes a chance to draw even. When the Caps struck paydirt on a power play of their own early in the third, it spelled the end of the Canes for the night. Additional goals from Cody Eakin and Nicklas Backstrom fueled the rout, and the Capitals limited the Hurricanes to just five shots on goal in the third period.
Washington has now scored five goals in consecutive games and has tallied a total of 14 times in its last three contests. The Capitals have scored five or more goals five times in their 11 games this season.
Defensively, they’ve held foes to a combined total of just 40 shots in the last two games, and a mere 10 shots on goal in the third period of the last two contests. Washington has allowed 2.54 goals per game, tied for 12th in the NHL this season.
Sitting at 9-2 through the season’s first 11 games, the Caps are off to the best start in franchise history to that point of the campaign.
The Caps are 6-1 in games in which they surrender the game’s first goal. No other team in the league has more wins when falling into an 0-1 hole this season.
A night after Michal Neuvirth earned his second victory of the season with a 24-save effort against the Hurricanes, Tomas Vokoun is expected to be back between the pipes for the Capitals on Saturday against the Islanders.
Vokoun had made nine straight starts in between Neuvirth’s bookend starts against Carolina this season. Vokoun has a very impressive career résumé against the Islanders, posting a 14-5-1 mark with four shutouts, a 1.97 GAA and a .937 save pct. during his career against New York.
In 10 career starts at Nassau Coliseum, Vokoun is 4-5-1 with a 2.46 GAA and a .923 save pct.
Caps captain Alex Ovechkin has also enjoyed a decent degree of success during his career against the Islanders. Ovechkin has 15 goals and 26 points in 22 career contests against New York. He has seven goals and 12 points in 11 career games at the Nassau Coliseum.
With one goal on three power play chances in Friday’s game in Raleigh, the Caps’ power play is now clicking at a 24.4% rate on the season. That’s good for third in the league.
Washington’s penalty killing outfit had its first perfect night (4-for-4) in the last four games, nudging the Caps up to 23rd in the league with a 77.5% kill rate.
New York comes into the 2011-12 season seeking to snap a string of four straight seasons of missing out on the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Islanders haven’t won a playoff series in nearly two decades – since 1993 – but they’ve got to get there to eradicate that blemish.
The Islanders come into Saturday’s game with the Capitals on the heels of a 3-0 home ice loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. New York is now 0-4-2 in its last six games after jumping out to a quick 3-1 start on the season.
New York has played just 10 games to date, fewest of any club in the NHL. The Islanders are dead last in goals per game this season at 1.8 per contest. Center John Tavares has scored seven of the Islanders’ 18 goals (38.9%) this season.
The Islanders have scored just seven goals during the life of their current six-game losing streak, and they’ve been shutout three times in 10 games this season. The Isles have scored more than two goals in a game just twice this season, and have not done so since a 4-2 home ice win over the rival Rangers on Oct. 15.
New York has fired a combined total of 71 shots on goal in its last two games, but they’ve managed to get just two of those past opposing netminders. The Islanders have scored a paltry total of 11 even-strength goals in their 10 games this season and has tallied a mere three even-strength goals during the life of the team’s current six-game skid.
New York has five forwards who each average at least a dozen minutes a night who are all still seeking their first goals of the season.
The Islanders are currently carrying three goaltenders: Rick DiPietro, Al Montoya and Evgeni Nabokov. Montoya and Nabokov split the first eight games, with each getting four starts. DiPietro has started each of the last two contests.
New York’s power play ranks ninth in the NHL with a 19.4% success rate. The Islanders are 13th in the NHL with an 86.1% snuff rate on the penalty kill this season.