The Capitals (2-0-2) travel to Nashville for a date with the Predators (2-1-0) on Thursday in the first of a two-game road trip.
You can catch all the action on NBC Sports Washington with Caps FaceOff Live at 7 p.m. and Caps Pregame Live at 7:30 p.m. before the game at 8 p.m. Stick with NBC Sports Washington afterward for Caps Postgame Live, D.C. Sports Live and Caps Overtime Live.
Here are six things to know for Thursday’s game.
The Caps have lost two in a row
After winning the first two games of the season, Washington has dropped the last two games in overtime. To make matters worse, both games included giving up third-period leads.
The first period against Dallas was complete domination for the Caps and easily their best period of the season. It was quite the opposite in the third. Nicklas Backstrom noted that after the game and said the team needs to have the same intensity to finish the game as they started with.
The fact that both losses came in overtime was also not lost on the team. When asked about that after the game, head coach Todd Reirden said they were still deciding on their 3-on-3 personnel early in the season.
Will Dmitry Orlov play?
Orlov left Wednesday’s practice early. Reirden revealed to the media afterward that he left due to a lower-body issue, but the team was just being precautionary and he is expected to play Thursday.
But what if he doesn’t?
This is why teams carry an extra defenseman. With the Caps so tight against the cap, however, they were already down to just six healthy defensemen. Michal Kempny has not yet been activated and Reirden said he will not be an option for Thursday. That means if Orlov doesn’t play, the Caps are suddenly down to five defensemen and on the road.
The Caps absolutely have to have Orlov ready for Thursday's game and for him and all six of their healthy defensemen to stay healthy.
Kuznetsov back on the second line
It was only a matter of time before Evgeny Kuznetsov made it back into the top-six and it appears that change will be made for Thursday’s game.
Kuznetsov practiced on the second line Wednesday switching spots with Lars Eller. It took Kuznetsov less than five minutes to score in his season debut and now he will get to work with Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie, both of whom have two goals already this season.
How the third line looks with Eller is something to watch as well. Eller with Carl Hagelin and Richard Panik was the projected line heading into the season and chances are that’s the way it will stay for much of the year. With no Brett Connolly, how good will this line be offensively?
The power play is ice cold
One reason for the Caps’ two-game losing streak? The power play. In the last two games, Washington has gone 0-for-11. Considering both games were lost in overtime, even one power-play goal could have been the difference between winning and losing.
The silver lining is that it should improve with Kuznetsov back in the lineup. Yes, he was in the lineup last game, but some rust and adjustments to start are to be expected.
The power play has looked out of sync and there has been talk from players and Reirden that they are getting out-worked by opponent’s penalty kill. The game against Carolina in particular, the break-ins were abysmal. Kuznetsov should certainly help with that has the primary puck carrier carrying into the offensive zone.
The Caps don’t play well against Nashville
You thought Washington’s history against Dallas was rough? That’s nothing. The Caps have lost six straight against the Predators and nine of their last 11. They have also lost six of their last seven in Nashville. In two losses last season, Washington was outscored 13-5.
The worst of the two losses, a 7-2 drubbing in Nashville in January, was the third of what would turn into a seven-game losing streak. Of a streak full of awful moments, this game was arguably Washington’s worst of the seven.
There’s more to Nashville's offense now
The Predators’ strength has been its blue line for several years. Outside of Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson and (sigh) Filip Forsberg, there has not been much in the way of offense for the Predators. They added another element on that end of the ice in the offseason with Matt Duchene.
Duchene was signed in the offseason and has had an immediate impact on the team with six assists in three games. He steps into the lineup and instantly becomes one of the team’s top offensive threats.
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