Pre-game primer: Mile-high test for Caps

Pre-game primer: Mile-high test for Caps
November 10, 2013, 3:30 pm
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News and notes as the Capitals [9-7-1] visit the Colorado Avalanche [13-2-0] tonight at the Pepsi Center in Denver [8 p.m., CSN]:

Where they stand: The Caps are 4-0-1 in their last five and are coming off Saturday night’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz., where they blew a 3-1 lead in the final 3:26 of regulation. The Avs own the NHL’s second-best record and have won three straight, including a 4-2 over the Flames on Friday.

What they’re saying: The Capitals have allowed three power-play goals in the past two games. But what has angered head coach Adam Oates even more is that they’ve been shorthanded 32 times in the past six games, including six times Saturday night. “We had too many penalties in general,” he said. “You know that's going to bite you at some point.”

Big offenses: The Avalanche have outscored their opponents 50-27, which is tied with San Jose for the best goal-differential in the NHL. The Caps helped contribute to that goal differential by losing 5-1 to the Avs in their fifth game of the season to fall to 1-4-0. “They play high tempo,” Caps left wing Brooks Laich said. “We want to control their speed and control the pace of the game.”

The other goalie: While Semyon Varlamov has gotten the majority of the starts for the Avs this season, backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere is a perfect 5-0-0 this season and allowed five goals in his five starts.

Ovi still rolling: In three games since returning from his upper body injury, Alex Ovechkin has five points. Nicklas Backstrom was held off the scoresheet against Phoenix after compiling eight points in his previous four games.

Power-ful: The Caps scored on two of their seven power plays against the Coyotes, marking the seventh time they’ve scored two or more goals on the man-advantage.

Big assist: Michal Neuvirth’s assist on Troy Brouwer’s power-play goal Saturday night was the first for a Caps goalie since March 30 of last season. It was Neuvirth’s second career assist.

What’s next: The Caps will get the day off on Monday and report for their morning skate at Kettler Tuesday at 10 a.m. for Tuesday night’s home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.