SPORTS

The Capitals are looking for a better performance, their first win of the season against the Canadiens

October 13, 2022;  Toronto, Ontario, CAN;  Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (8) shoots against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the third period at Scotiabank Arena.  Mandatory credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals will aim to avoid their first slump in three games without a win to start the season in a decade when they host the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

The Capitals, who have lost three straight to start the 2012-13 campaign, have yet to capitalize on any of their nine power-play opportunities this season. They went 0-for-4 in a 5-2 loss against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday and 0-for-5 with the man advantage in a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs the following night.

“A lot of it is execution,” Washington coach Peter Laviolette said of his team’s problems on the power play. “We have to be better with what we do on the ice. We’ll go back and continue to work on it, but for me, I think the execution has to be better.”

Superstar captain Alex Ovechkin echoed his coach’s sentiments about the team’s problems with the man advantage.

“I think it’s just the execution and maybe the fear of just playing to get one extra shot and find a dirty goal. But we just have to deal with it,” said Ovechkin. “Obviously, that’s the start we don’t want to have, two defeats in a row. But it’s a wake-up call and we have to do better and play well in the next one.”

Next up is Saturday night against the visiting Canadiens. Washington outscored Montreal by a 19-9 margin en route to sweeping the 2021-22 season series.

Ovechkin had one goal and three assists in two games against the Canadiens last season. The three-time Hart Trophy winner, however, joined Russian compatriot Evgeni Kuznetsov and defenseman John Carlson without a point in the first two games for the Capitals.

Washington will likely return to Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Darcy Kuemper to start Saturday’s contest. Kuemper struggled in the season opener, giving up four goals on 29 shots to the Bruins.

Kuemper, 32, has a 3-2-0 record with a 2.40 goals-against average in six career appearances (five starts) against Montreal.

The Canadiens will likely counter with Sam Montembeault, who will make his season debut after Jake Allen was in net in the team’s first two games. Montembeault is 0-1-0 with a 5.23 goals-against average in two career appearances (one start) against the Capitals.

Allen led Montreal to a 4-3 win over Toronto on Wednesday before stopping 37 of 38 shots in a 3-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday.

“I don’t know if we can say it was a good game … we couldn’t match their intensity,” Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki said. “We relied heavily on Jake Allen to get on his head, and we can do better than that.”

Suzuki has three points (one goal, two assists) in three games with the Capitals in 2021-22.

Cole Caufield, who scored twice in Wednesday’s opener, had two wins against Washington last season.

Like the Capitals, the Canadiens have yet to convert on the power play this season. Montreal is 0-for-7 on the man advantage.

– Media in the field

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