The Washington Capitals will be looking for treats more than tricks when they take on the San Jose Sharks. This is the second game of Washington’s five-game homestand. The Caps (3-3-1) are coming off a 3-2 shootout win against the Minnesota Wild, which marked their first two-game win streak of the young season.
Here are the projected lines.
Alex Ovechkin – Dylan Strome – Tom Wilson
Sonny Milano – Evgeny Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie
Connor McMichael – Nicklas Backstrom – Anthony Mantha
Beck Malenstyn – Aliaksei Protas – Matthew Phillips
Martin Fehervary – John Carlson
Rasmus Sandin – Trevor van Riemsdyk
Alex Alexeyev – Nick Jensen
Charlie Lindgren will dress for the first time since the first game of the season against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He had been dealing with an upper-body injury which caused him to miss the last six games. Hunter Shepard filled the backup role during Lindgren’s absence and earned his first NHL win against the New Jersey Devils. Shepard was sent back down to the Hershey Bears on Saturday.
Washington struggled to put the puck in the back of the net at the start of the young season, scoring just three goals through the first three games. But now the offense is starting to click on a more consistent basis and the Caps are getting more production throughout their lineup.
The top line of Alex Ovechkin, Dylan Strome and Tom Wilson continues to produce since they were put together. Ovechkin has six points (two goals, four assists) through his last five games. Wilson got on the scoresheet for the first time with a short-handed goal in the first period against Minnesota and Strome scored his fifth goal in four games on the man-advantage.
“Over the last couple of games, you can see our five-on-five game but I would also group special teams into that and then also put in that some individual performance wise of it becoming way more consistent with our expectations [and] our standard,” Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery said after Saturday’s practice. “Special teams look a lot more organized and connected from the penalty kill standpoint [and] power play standpoint. Individuals and their game you can see it keeps climbing to the level that they expect and they’re capable of playing at. It’s starting to round out.”
Along with the offense, the defensive zone structure is starting to improve as well. Though the Caps have given up a fair amount of quality chances in front of Darcy Kuemper, Washington’s blue line has done a better job at breaking the puck out cleanly and making sure the puck gets out of the zone under pressure.
“The two periods in New Jersey, you could tell that we were managing the puck the way that we were defending their speed,” Carbery said. “Then [Friday night] different stress levels but we did a way better job of staying within structure. Box outs, underneath sticks when they’re throwing pucks to the net, making sure that we’re breaking the pucks out clean against a heavy forecheck. So, those things that we need to do to be successful I feel like are becoming more consistent.”
Scouting San Jose
The Sharks are dead last in the league and have dropped all eight of their games. Their only point of the season came in a 2-1 shootout loss against the Colorado Avalanche. Since then, they have lost six straight in regulation.
They were shut out for the second consecutive night on Friday, Oct. 27 in a 3-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. San Jose has given up 3.88 goals per game, which is the fourth-most in the NHL. They are two spots ahead of the Caps in that category.
Player To Watch
Tomas Hertl leads the Sharks with five points (one goal, four assists) through eight games.
The Capitals take on the Sharks at 5 p.m. at Capital One Arena. The game can be streamed on Monumental Sports Network.
By Jacob Cheris