For the last week, the Washington Capitals have played in the comforts of home, where they are the best team in the Eastern Conference. Yet, after four consecutive games at Verizon Center, the Caps leave Washington behind for three straight, starting Wednesday against the Montreal Canadiens at Centre Bell.
Tuesday, the Caps' homestand ended with a dud in a 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders. After three closely-contested wins over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes, Washington could not muster any momentum or shots on goal, earning only 17. It was New York's first regulation win at Verizon Center since October 2007 and the Caps' first loss at home since December 13,
Washington will now head back on the road, where its seven wins are third-fewest in the NHL.
The Caps and Habs have yet to play this season, but Wednesday's game should prove to be emotional. Rene Bourque, formerly of the Calgary Flames, was traded to Montreal last week. Bourque's elbow is responsible for Nicklas Backstrom's head injury that has kept him out of game action since. Several Caps expressed disappointment that they did not play the Flames again, but it will be intriguing to see who, if anybody, will seek retribution against Bourque.
What is also intriguing will be who starts in goal for Washington. Tomas Vokoun allowed three goals Tuesday in his 10th consecutive start, but head coach Dale Hunter thought he played a solid game. In the second game of a back-to-back set, perhaps Michal Neuvirth will see his first action of 2012.