Giving up six goals in back-to-back games is cause for alarm for any team, particularly one that features a former Vezina Trophy winner in net. The beleaguered Washington Capitals look to get back on track following a pair of ugly road losses when they host red-hot Jason Zucker and the resurgent Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.
The Capitals held a brief team meeting following Thursday’s 6-2 loss at Colorado, which came two days after a 6-3 drubbing in Nashville. The two-time defending Presidents’ Trophy winners are hitting a favorable portion of the schedule to get back on track, kicking off a four-game homestand and playing nine of the next 10 at Verizon Center. After winning three in a row via shutout, Minnesota’s offense came to the rescue in Thursday’s 6-4 comeback win over Nashville, scoring four late third-period goals to extend its winning streak to four. “That’s what we did last year,” goaltender Devan Dubnyk said. “We can be overwhelming. We have a ton of guys who can score goals. We hadn’t really shown that yet this year.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), NBC Sports Washington
ABOUT THE WILD (9-7-2): Zucker is on a goal-scoring binge with eight tallies during a five-game streak and they haven’t been cheap ones — seven of the eight have come in the final 20 minutes, including the go-ahead tally against Nashville. Zucker boosted his total to 11 goals, halfway to last season’s career-high 22. “For me, I want to make sure that I’m just trying to create chances and get in on pucks and get pucks to the net at any point in the game,” Zucker said. “I guess they’re just happening to go in in the third period.”
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (10-9-1): Slow starts continue to hinder Washington, which fell behind by two goals in the first period in each of the past two games and dropped to 5-9-0 when allowing the opponent to score first. “There’s not enough urgency,” forward Tom Wilson said. “I mean, it can spiral. You come out, they get a couple goals, guys are maybe trying to cheat a little bit on the offensive end and then another puck goes in your net.” Braden Holtby takes a 5-2-0 record and 1.69 goals-against average at home into Saturday’s start.
1. Dubnyk owns a 2-4-1 mark with a 3.61 goals-against average against the Capitals.
2. Washington has won four in a row at home and five straight against Minnesota.
3. The Wild have killed off all 17 short-handed situations in the previous six games.
PREDICTION: Capitals 3, Wild 2