Nov. 3 vs. Atlanta Thrashers at Verizon Center
Time: 7:00 pm
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: SportsTalk 980 AM
LINK: http://www.washingtoncaps.com/news/Pregame.aspAtlanta Thrashers (8-3-3)Washington Capitals (4-3-4)
Barenaked Ladies to Sing National Anthem at Capitals Game Nov. 3
The multi-platinum band Barenaked Ladies will sing the national anthem prior to the Washington Capitals game on Friday, Nov. 3, against the Atlanta Thrashers at Verizon Center at 7 p.m. The recording artists will be playing at the George Mason Patriot Center on Saturday.
On the heels of a successful Western road trip (2-1-1) and their first October with a record above .500 (4-3-4) since 1997-98, the Washington Capitals host the Southeast Division leading Atlanta Thrashers at Verizon Center on Friday night.
Friday?s game is the third meeting of the season between the Caps and Thrashers. Atlanta won an overtime decision at Verizon on Oct. 14 and took another via the shootout at Philips Arena in Atlanta on Oct. 19. The Capitals are 2-1-2 against Southeast Division opponents this season.
Washington?s most recent outing was a 4-2 victory at Calgary on Monday night, the final game of the four-game trip. The Caps allowed more shots on goal than they managed themselves in every game of the trip, but played well at both ends of the ice against the Flames. It was certainly their best overall performance of the trip.
?I thought we did a pretty good job of limiting their shots to the perimeter,? said Washington goaltender Olie Kolzig, ?and it was a much improved hockey game on our part.?
That triumph in Calgary turned a .500 road trip into a winning road trip. It also gave the Caps their second road win of the season about three weeks ahead of last season?s pace.
?It?s huge,? responded Kolzig when asked about the significance of the trip. ?If we have any ideas of making the playoffs, you have to win on the road. We thought coming out here and being .500 would be a good trip, but we?re a little above that. Now we have to do it at home. We can?t be satisfied with what we did here and go home and lay an egg. We?ve got to go back and play well within our conference.?
Sixty-six of Washington?s last 71 games will be played within the conference, and the Caps still must play 27 games within their division, beginning on Friday against Atlanta. The Caps went 5-3-5 against Southeast foes after last February?s Olympic break, so Washington is 7-4-7 in its last 18 divisional tilts.
In the Caps? previous game against Atlanta on Oct. 19, Washington was unable to convert a third-period lead into a victory. Atlanta?s Marian Hossa tied the game in the final minute of regulation and the Thrashers went on to win in the shootout.
In both of its wins on the road trip, the Caps built and maintained third-period leads.
?What really impressed me is how we played after [Calgary?s Jarome] Iginla got the second goal to make it 3-2,? said Kolzig. ?I think they had one more shot [after the goal] and it was a shot from well outside. That showed me that our team wasn?t panicking. We still had confidence and we stuck to our game.?
Caps coach Glen Hanlon tweaked the team?s forward lines in Calgary and the results were positive. Struggling winger Richard Zednik scored his first two goals of the season, including the game-winner on a breakaway in the third. Zednik was paired with center Boyd Gordon and left wing Donald Brashear. That trio had some strong shifts in the attack zone, and it was his linemates? good work along the walls that led to Zednik's first goal of the game and the season.
?Whenever I can get in on the forecheck, I think that is one of my best assets,? said Gordon after the game. ?Just cycling the puck down low and trying to create havoc, our line did a great job of that tonight.
?Zed is a great player and Brash is strong down low. We kept it simple. We got pucks deep and we made some good plays. Going into it, I was excited and I think we played pretty well.?
Washington ranks 12th in the NHL in power play success with a 17% conversion rate. The Caps? penalty killing corps stands 20th in the NHL with a success rate of 81.8%.
At 8-3-3, the Thrashers are off to the best start in franchise history. Atlanta is seeking its first-ever playoff berth, and has positioned itself well with a strong start. The Thrashers hold a five-point lead over second place Carolina in the Southeast Division standings. Even so, there is a bit of uneasiness in Atlanta.
The Thrashers are coming off a 5-2 home ice loss at the hands of the Hurricanes on Wednesday night. Despite outshooting the Canes 42-18 and having 10 power plays to Carolina?s five, the Thrashers never led in Wednesday?s game.
Atlanta goaltender Kari Lehtonen allowed four goals on just 13 shots, and was pulled in favor of backup Johan Hedberg late in the second period. Lehtonen is now 1-5-1 with a 4.11 goals against average lifetime against the Hurricanes. Carolina goaltender Cam Ward made 40 saves, including 16 on the Thrashers? Marian Hossa. Hossa notched his 500th career point in that game, and also established a franchise mark for most shots on goal in a single contest.
After the game, Atlanta coach Bob Hartley was less than complimentary about Lehtonen?s performance. Hartley has already stated that Hedberg will start Friday?s game against the Capitals in Washington, despite Lehtonen?s unblemished (5-0) lifetime mark against the Caps.
The loss to Carolina dropped the Thrashers to 1-2-2 in their last five. Atlanta has one of the league?s most potent power plays, but the Thrashers are just 2-for-27 (7.4%) with the extra man in those five games.
Atlanta is without No. 1 defenseman Niclas Havelid, who has returned to his native Sweden to help care for his ill mother. Havelid leads the Thrashers in ice time and is 10th in NHL.
Atlanta?s power play is ninth best in the league with a success rate of 18.8%. The Thrashers are also ninth in the NHL in penalty killing with a kill rate of 86.4%.