The Capitals (11-4-0, 22 points) return home tonight to face the Calgary Flames (5-11-1, 11 points) at Verizon Center (6:30 p.m. pregame, CSN). Here are our AAA keys to the game:
Chasing history: Alex Ovechkin is one goal away from becoming Russia’s No. 1 goal scorer in the NHL. Ovechkin boldly stated after Thursday night’s 5-2 win in Philadelphia that he is looking forward to passing Sergei Fedorov’s mark of 483 goals at home in front of his family, future in-laws and fans.
Twice in the last three games Ovechkin has had goals overturned on coach’s challenges, with teammate Justin Williams (goalie interference, offsides) committing an infraction both times.
Another night without Orpik: With four days between tonight’s game against the Flames and the Caps’ Wednesday night visit to Detroit, the Caps decided to give defenseman Brooks Orpik a second straight night off to recover from the lower body injury he sufferedTuesday night in Detroit.
With Orpik sidelined, look for the Caps to go with Nate Schmidt on a top defense pairing with John Carlson and Taylor Chorney to remain on a third pairing with Dmitry Orlov. Schmidt and Chorney played well in the Caps’ 5-2 win in Philadelphia on Thursday night.
O say can Grubi see?: Playing the tail end of back-to-backs, the Caps will turn to Philipp Grubauer (2-0-0, 2.44 GAA, .900 SP), giving Braden Holtby (9-4-0, 2.01, .919) a rest. The Flames are expected to turn to starter Karri Ramo, who is 3-6-0 with a 3.54 GAA and .888 SP.
Grubauer took a stick to his face during Thursday’s morning skate in Philadelphia and needed stitches to close a cut under his eye. Grubauer will be making his first start since Halloween night, when he stopped 26 of 27 shots in a 2-1 overtime win over the Florida Panthers
“He’s fine,” Trotz. “He can see through it, so he’s good. He still has a black eye, that’s all.”
See what Brown can do for Hershey: Trotz said that with four days between games he wanted Chris Brown and Chandler Stephenson to get some playing time in Hershey, which is why the club sent both players down to the AHL earlier on Friday. The Caps are down to the minimum of 12 healthy forwareds, with Stan Galiev expected to join them on Friday if he clears NHL waivers.
Brown was assigned to Hershey on a two-week conditioning assignment, which prevents another team from claiming him off waivers. Once that two-week assignment passes, Brown will be eligible for waivers.
Something’s gotta give: Both teams played games on the road Thursday night. While the Caps were winning in Philadelphia, the Flames were in Tampa, where they fell to the Lightning 3-1. The Caps hacve won three of the last four and five of their last seven, while the Flames have lost two in a row and seven of their last 10.
The Caps rank fifth in the NHL on the power play (23.4 percent), where Jason Chimera netted a pair of goals Thursdya night, while the Flames rank 29th on the penalty kill (74 percent), where they’ve allowed a power-play goal in three straight games.
Here are projected lineups for both teams:
Philipp Grubauer (starter) – Braden Holtby
Mark Giordano - T.J. Brodie