Capitals weekly primer

Capitals weekly primer
February 5, 2013, 10:15 am
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Caps trying to stay positive

The Capitals play three games in five days this week, highlighted by rematches against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins and their first of four meetings against the Florida Panthers.

Below is a look at this week’s opponents. All numbers are through Monday.

TUESDAY, FEB.5 VS. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (4-5-0; 4TH PLACE NORTHEAST DIVISION)

The Capitals fell 3-2 in Toronto last Thursday thanks in large part to the season-high eight minor penalties Washington took in the first two periods. 

While the Caps managed to kill seven of Toronto’s eight power play opportunities, the physical and mental toll of the shorthanded ice-time was felt by game’s end. The Maple Leafs outshot the Capitals 9-0 in the first ten minutes of the third period, and rallied from a 2-1 deficit for their first home win of the season.

The Capitals allowed a season-high 40 shots on goal to Toronto (seven from James van Riemsdyk and six from Phil Kessel), while firing a season-low 22 shots of their own. 

Kessel remains without a goal in nine games this season, while Capitals’ captain Alex Ovechkin is still seeking his first even strength marker of the season. Ovechkin’s two goals this year have both come on the power play. 

Ovechkin did score last week in Toronto and his 24 career goals and 43 points against the Maple Leafs are his highest against any non Southeast Division opponent.

The Maple Leafs are 3-1-0 on the road and are seeking their best road start in 14 years.

THURSDAY, FEB. 7 @ PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (6-3-0; 1ST PLACE ATLANTIC DIVISION)

Despite beginning the week atop the Atlantic Division, the Penguins have won just one of three home games so far this season.

They began the week having won three-straight overall, including Sunday’s 6-3 triumph at Verizon Center. The Pens have outscored opponents 14-4 during the three-game winning streak, highlighted by a four-goal performance by Chris Kunitz against the Caps (Kunitz was originally credited with three goals, before a scoring change was made the day after the game). 

Since the start of the 2009-10 season, the Capitals are 9-2-2 against Pittsburgh including a 2-0-1 mark at the CONSOL Energy Center.

SATURDAY, FEB. 9 VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS (3-5-0; 4TH PLACE SOUTHEAST DIVISION)

For the first time this season, the Capitals will face the defending Southeast Division champion Panthers on Saturday from Verizon Center. The game marks the front end of a home-and-home series.

The Panthers began the week on a two-game winning streak, which came on the heels of a five-game losing streak. Florida was outscored 23-5 during its five skid, but has outscored opponents 15-7 in its three wins. 

Former Capitals forward Tomas Fleischmann leads Florida with seven points in eight games, but he is also last among Eastern Conference forwards with a minus-7 rating.