The Washington Capitals left D.C. last week with a debilitating 3-2 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils. That carried over into their three-game road trip, where they scored three goals and went 0-3. The Caps return to Verizon Center Monday hoping that some home cooking with Thanksgiving three days away will bring back their winning ways against the Phoenix Coyotes.
A close loss to the Nashville Predators gave way to blowouts to the Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs, leaving the Caps at 10-7-1 after starting the season 7-0-0. Only the Carolina Hurricanes and Anaheim Ducks have less points through their last 10 games than the Caps' seven. The Caps, however, have a solid 6-1-1 record at Verizon Center.
Matters won't get any easier Monday against the Coyotes, who at 10-5-3 (7-2-1 in their last 10) are in the middle of a tight Western Conference. Washington, however, may be able to catch Phoenix on an off-night; the Coyotes are finishing a five-game road trip in Washington. Not only that, but if Mike Smith (9-3-3, 2.16 GAA, .936 SV%) starts for the Coyotes, his career numbers against the Caps are abysmal (0-6-0, 5.03 GAA, .843 SV%).