The depleted Washington Capitals look for their third straight win when they visit the Ottawa Senators Thursday night.
The Capitals began the season with three forwards on the long-term injured list, including Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson. Two more top-six forwards will be missing Thursday night.
Evgeny Kuznetsov was suspended one game for high sticking Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kyle Burroughs in Monday’s 6-4 win. He has been nursing an undisclosed injury but had three assists against Vancouver and should return Saturday versus the Los Angeles Kings.
The new was far worse regarding Connor Brown. The forward, acquired from the Senators in the offseason to help cover Wilson’s absence, left Monday’s game with a lower-body injury and was placed on long-term injured reserve Wednesday.
Connor McMichael, 21, who scored 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 69 games last season, will make his 2022-23 debut against the Senators.
“Obviously it’s unfortunate that some things had to play out for that to happen, but I’m excited and I’m ready,” McMichael said after Wednesday’s practice. “I think I just need to show my compete level. My intention out there is just to prove that I’m willing to battle for pucks and fight for ice time.”
The Capitals will be looking to carry over a strong finish from their last game. Trailing 4-2 after two periods, they rallied for a 6-4 win. Alex Ovechkin had four points, including his first two goals of the season.
“I thought in the third period we straightened out and played a really good third period — maybe our best third period of the year and our best offensive period of the year,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “We were on the attack, and we were pushing the whole time.”
The Senators are coming off an impressive game of their own, picking up their first win Tuesday with a 7-5 victory over the Boston Bruins in Ottawa’s home opener.
Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson and Tim Stutzle each had a goal and two assists for Ottawa, and Anton Forsberg made 29 saves in his third straight start. Claude Giroux, signed as a free agent in July, scored in his first home game for the Senators.
“In those first two games, we just couldn’t get over that hump there,” said Tkachuk. “But tonight, that just creates so much confidence for us to be able to close out games, especially tight games.”
The Senators surrendered all of an early 3-0 lead, pushed it back up to 6-3 and then held on as Boston got to within 6-5 after two periods before Artem Zub’s tally midway through the third period.
“We’ve clearly got to learn how to handle those situations,” Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said of giving up a three-goal lead. “But, in saying that, we stayed on them, we had lots of chances and we won the game.”
Forsberg is 3-1 with a 3.48 goals-against average and .895 save percentage in five games against the Capitals.
Darcy Kuemper will likely make his fourth start in five games for Washington. He is 5-1 with a 2.62 GAA and 9.14 save percentage versus the Senators.
–Field Level Media