Injury-plagued Capitals come off road to face Blackhawks
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals return home from a successful four-game trip to host the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night.
Washington (10-7-3) won three of four games on the road despite injuries to goalie Braden Holtby and top-six forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie along the way.
Holtby missed three games and was slated to make his return against the Blackhawks, but when the Montreal Canadiens scored three goals in 75 seconds Monday night against Phoenix Copley, coach Todd Reirden inserted Holtby.
He stopped all 22 shots he faced and the Capitals rallied from a 4-2 second-period deficit for a 5-4 win on Lars Eller's overtime goal.
"I thought (Holtby) was great when he came in," Reirden told the team's website. "He looked really solid; he really settled things down for us and changed the momentum of the game. That's what you have to do sometimes."
Washington, which has won two straight games in overtime, is home for two games sandwiched around Thanksgiving with the Detroit Red Wings visiting Friday.
Kuznetsov and Oshie are day to day with upper-body injuries. Washington announced Tuesday that 38-year-old defenseman Brooks Orpik, who has missed 10 games, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and he will miss four to six weeks.
Orpik's absence has meant more time for second-year defenseman Madison Bowey, who has three assists in his last five games. The 23-year-old Bowey played in 51 games as a rookie last season but was not in the lineup during the Stanley Cup run.
Bowey told the Washington Post that sitting out taught him to focus on playing his game rather than worrying about making a mistake.
"Now I'm just free-spirited. I'm making sure I come to the rink ready and I'm focused, and I'm prepared," Bowey told the Post. "I have confidence in myself and in my game because I know the coaching staff does. I think that's why I'm definitely feeling much better this year than I did last year."
The Blackhawks (8-8-5) play seven of their next nine games on the road. They'll travel south to play the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers this weekend before heading back home for a game.
"It'll be a fun trip," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton told the Chicago Tribune. "Another measuring stick. I thought Sunday (against the Minnesota Wild) was a measuring stick against one of the top teams in the conference to see how we could handle it.
"We'll take it one game at a time. But it goes back to us. If we take care of our own performance, I believe we'll have a chance to win."
Corey Crawford made a season-high 39 saves against the Wild. He has allowed two regulation goals in the past three games.
"Overall, I think I've felt great," Crawford told NHL.com. "I felt good in every game and just got to battle and work to be good. I've felt good so far, but I felt our guys did a really good job of helping out in front of the net."
Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist against the Wild and Patrick Kane had two assists for the Blackhawks, who are 2-0-2 in their past four games despite scoring just seven goals.
Crawford is 3-4-2 with a 3.54 goals-against average and .884 save percentage against the Capitals.
Holtby is 7-3 with a 2.67 GAA and a .918 save percentage versus the Blackhawks.
Updated November 20, 2018