Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images
The Washington Capitals clash with the Dallas Stars for the second time this week and the final time this season at American Airlines Center on Saturday night. The Stars won 4-3 in overtime at Capital One Arena on Tuesday after trailing twice for their third consecutive overtime victory against the Capitals. Action from “The Big D” can be seen on NBC Sports Washington beginning at 8 PM ET.
The Capitals look to bounce back after giving up their third consecutive third-period lead in a 6-5 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night, where they held 4-2 and 5-4 leads before allowing two goals 28 seconds apart in the final five minutes of the game. They also led the Stars 2-1 in the third period on Tuesday night before giving up two goals 4:09 apart.
The team concludes a two-game Central Division road-trip in Dallas on Saturday night. Before falling to the Predators, the Capitals won their first two road games of the season, outscoring opponents 4-3 in that span. The Capitals are in the midst of a stretch where they will play seven of 10 games on the road. They went 24-15-2 on the road last season.
Defenseman John Carlson leads his team with eight points and is tied for the league-lead with seven assists through five games this season. Captain Alex Ovechkin, who led the NHL in goals in each of the past two seasons, and forward T.J. Oshie share the Capitals’ team lead with three goals. Ovechkin, 34, tallied two power-play goals in the team’s 6-5 loss to the Predators on Thursday but has just four points this season.
After the Capitals allowed just three goals in their first two games, they have allowed 13 in their last three. However, their average of 28 shots-against per game is currently tied with the Philadelphia Flyers for the fewest in the NHL this season. Before allowing 38 shots on goal against the Predators, the Capitals outshot their opponents in each of their first four games of the season. The good news for them is that top-four defenseman Michal Kempny, who has not played since March 20 due to a hamstring injury and led the team with a +24 rating last season, could return to the lineup against the Stars.
Goaltender Braden Holtby, who is 1-1-2 with an .868 save percentage and a 3.67 goals-against average this season, will likely start against the Stars on Saturday. In nine career games against the Stars, the 30-year old is 2-4-2 with an .867 save percentage and a 4.02 goals-against average. He made 22 saves in Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime loss against the Stars.
Going into 2019-20, the Stars were expected to do some big things this season after taking the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues to double overtime of Game 7 of the second round last season but are off to a 1-3-1 start, though they have points in consecutive games (1-0-1). They dropped all of their first three games of the season in regulation.
Rookie center Roope Hintz leads the Stars with four goals and five points in five games this season and is entering Saturday’s game on a three-game point streak, where he has tallied three goals and four points. He recorded a goal against the Capitals on Tuesday. Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak and forward Mattias Janmark are tied for the team lead with two assists.
The Stars close out a short two-game homestand on Saturday night after falling 3-2 to the Calgary Flames via shootout fashion on Thursday. They are 0-1-1 at home this season after going 24-14-3 at American Airlines Center last year. Following Saturday night’s contest against the Capitals, the Stars hit the road for four consecutive games all against Eastern Conference opponents.
The Stars’ power-play is only 7.1% efficient this season, the lowest of all NHL teams who have scored at least one power-play goal, but have been strong on the penalty-kill. Their 85.7% penalty-killing efficiency is currently tied with the Blues and Flyers for the ninth-best in the NHL this season. They don’t take a lot of shots as their average of 28.4 shots-per-game is currently 29th in the league, though their average of 28.8 shots-against per game is the fifth-best.
Expect goaltender Ben Bishop, who is 1-2-1 with a .910 save percentage and a 2.48 goals-against average this season, to start against the Capitals on Saturday. In 13 career games against the Capitals, the 32-year old is 4-6-2 with an .891 save percentage and a 3.37 goals-against average. Bishop made 29 saves in the Stars’ 4-3 win in Washington on Tuesday.
- Fifteen of the Capitals’ 18 players who have appeared in a game this season have a positive shot attempt percentage at five-on-five, with forward Brendan Leipsic leading the NHL and his team (66.07 shot attempt percentage, minimum: five games played) and Carlson ranking third among defensemen (58.02 shot attempt percentage)
- The Capitals have scored the first goal in their last four games
- Forward T.J. Oshie has recorded 26 points (12 goals) in 31 career games against the Stars, including 10 points in his last 11 games (four goals)
By Harrison Brown