Washington wraps up its three-game homestand with the slumping Nashville Predators to Verizon Center, as the Preds certainly have been powerless over the past couple of games.
After starting out the season 2-0-0, Nashville has been outscored 16-2 in its last four games, getting shut out twice in the process. The Predators are averaging a league-worst 1.17 goals-per-game and also feature a sputtering power-play that also is the bottom of the NHL with a 5 percent success rate (1 for 20).
Even worse, four of their first six games have come at home, and now the Predators head into the second game of a six-game Eastern road trip, one that started off with a 3-1 loss to Chicago Thursday night.
To put their offensive woes in perspective, the Predators have just four players who have scored a single goal this season, and only Jason Arnott (3 goals) and Patric Hornqvist (2 goals) have scored more than one. To put that in perspective, the Capitals have eight players with at least one goal so far, and Alex Ovechkin matched the Predators' entire offensive output of the last 240 minutes in just :28 Thursday night.
It's not that the Predators aren't putting shots on net, as they are averaging 28.5 per contest so far, it's just that they're connecting on just 4.7 percent of them.
The Capitals finally broke their four-game losing skid on Thursday with a 4-1 win over Nashville, as Ovechkin's two goals were the difference in the contest. They did lose the services of Jose Theodore, who will miss the Predators contest, and Semyon Varlamov will look to build on his two strong periods in relief against San Jose with Branden Holtby being the emergency backup after three solid appearances in Hershey.
Of course, sometimes a struggling team is primed for a breakout, so the Capitals will need to beware of giving up an early goal or two to boost the Predators' confidence and opening the floodgates. It will be important to break the Preds' will early, and pop in a goal or two against them to increase the pressure on the struggling club.
Dan Ellis has been the better of Nashville's two netminders, posting a 2-1-0 mark, but he was brutal in his last appearance, allowing three goals in three shots in a 6-0 loss to Dallas on the 14th.
One game after breaking their slump, the Capitals will have to be careful not to allow a struggling Nashville team to break their own Saturday night.