Washington Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette met with the media Saturday morning prior to the Capitals-Flames matinee at Capital One Arena. Laviolette said that Vitek Vanecek will get the start in goal and Connor McMichael will remain in the lineup.
Vitek Vanecek will start in net for the Capitals vs the Flames today, per Laviolette. Connor McMichael also stays in the lineup; Lapierre stays out.
— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) October 23, 2021
Vanecek earned the opening night start, and he has blanked the opposition into the third period in each of his first three starts. Last season, Vanecek carried a shutout into the third period on nine occasions in 36 starts. In 14 of his starts last season, Vanecek did not yield a goal that put his team behind.
Laviolette also said Saturday morning that center Nicklas Backstrom is “progressing” in his recovery from his hip injury. “He’s been on the ice quite a bit. He’s doing his thing. So, yeah, he’s moving forward.” Backstrom is on LTI. The earliest he is able to return is November 6 against the Flyers.
Evgeny Kuznetsov has recorded eight points (3g, 5a) in the first four games of the season, which is tied with Ovechkin (4g, 4a) for the team lead. Kuznetsov enters today’s game one point shy of passing Kevin Hatcher (426) for 13th on the Capitals’ franchise points list and four points shy of passing Scott Stevens (429) for 12th place. Individually at five-on-five, Kuznetsov has created 10 scoring chances this season, only trailing Ovechkin (12) for the team lead. Kuznetsov’s multi-point effort Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils marked the 102nd multi-point game of his career. Since the 2014-15 season, Kuznetsov ranks third on the Capitals in multi-point games (Ovechkin: 141; Nicklas Backstrom: 124).
Projected Lines for today:
8-Ovechkin, 92-Kuznetsov, 43-Wilson
39-Mantha, 20-Eller, 10-Sprong
73-Sheary, 24-McMichael, 77-Oshie
62-Hagelin, 26-Dowd, 21-Hathaway
57-van Riemsdyk, 2-Schultz
19-Backstrom (hip, week-to-week)
13-Gaudreau, 28-Lindholm, 19-Tkachuk
88-Mangiapane, 29-Dube, 24-Ritchie
20-Coleman, 11-Backlund, 18-Pitlick
17-Lucic, 23-Monahan, 22-Lewis
15-Richardson (lower body)
26-Stone (COVID-19 protocol)
Against The Flames
Jacob Markstrom comes into Saturday’s game on the heels of a 33-save shutout over the Wings in Detroit on Thursday. Lifetime against Washington, he is 1-7-1 with a 3.23 GAA and an .898 save pct. in nine appearances.
Markstrom was the third goaltender taken in the 2008 NHL Draft – the same draft that produced Braden Holtby in the fourth round – and the two goaltenders chosen ahead of him combined to play a grand total of three NHL games.
This marks Washington’s first game against Calgary since Nov. 3, 2019, a 4-2 win. Alex Ovechkin has 10 points (3g, 7a) in his last 10 games against Calgary and 25 points (11g, 14a) in 19 career games against the Flames. Through four games, the Capitals have held a lead for over 156 (156:42) combined minutes, which is the second-highest amount in the NHL (Edmonton Oilers: 181:35 through five games). Additionally, the Capitals are the only team in the NHL to never trail in a game this season.
Puck drop for Capitals and Flames is 1:00 PM.
By Jon Sorensen