Preview: Avalanche at Capitals, Game 5

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Avs (4-0-0) close out their three-game road trip in America's shutdown capital as they face Ovi and the Caps (1-3-0). Can they stay perfect?

The story of the season so far for Colorado is goaltending. The Avs wouldn't have a perfect record if not for the 0.75 goals against through four games thanks to the stellar play from both Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere. (Fun side note: New York Rangers' GAA is 5.00. Yikes.)

Yes, we hear people everywhere saying "it's early" and "the Avs will come back down to Earth" blah, blah, blah. Who cares? I'm a fan, you're a fan, and it's not our job to avoid getting too high or too low. For years we've experienced mediocrity or worse. And now? We are finally seeing change that we can truly believe in and rally behind. Celebrate your heart out, live in the moment, surf the burgundy rainbow.

The Avs are more confident than ever, coming off a 2-0 shutout against Milan "Sissy Fit" Lucic and the rough-and-tumble Boston Bruins. Meanwhile, the Caps are off to a shaky start having already lost their third game by a tally of 3-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes.

The storyline that the media might try to hype up is Varlamov's return to Washington - his first start there since the 2012 trade that sent a couple of draft picks back to the Caps. One of those picks turned out to be Filip Forsberg, who has since then been shipped off to Nashville in exchange for Martin Erat. Right now Erat has been designated as a fourth-line regular. The other pick was traded in a package that brought in Mike Ribeiro (though he is now with Phoenix).

Here's what Varly had to say about the return:

I have lots of memories with Washington. They gave me the chance to play in the NHL, you know? So this was a special team for me. Yeah, probably, I will be a little bit nervous. But I'm so excited to be coming back and to play in the Verizon Center.

The Caps chose Varlamov 23rd overall in the 2006 NHL Draft. Their starting goalie for tonight? Michael Neuvirth, chosen 34th overall in the very same draft. Braden Holtby has started all four games for the Caps this season, while Neuvirth's only appearance came in a relief effort which ended in a triumphant shootout.

The Caps are going to have to get their act together if they want to avoid the early slump: In each of their losses they have blown a lead. Even worse, three of the four leads they've held have all lasted less than four minutes.

Starting lineup (Washington):

  • Johansson - Backstrom - Ovechkin
  • Laich - Grabovski - Brouwer
  • Chimera - Fehr - Ward
  • Erat - Latta - Wilson
  • Alzner - Green
  • Urbom - Carlson
  • Schmidt - Oleksy
  • Neuvirth (GAA 1.23 - SV% .964)
Starting lineup (Colorado):
  • O'Reilly - Duchene - Downie
  • Landeskog - Stastny - Tanguay
  • McGinn - MacKinnon - Parenteau
  • McLeod - Mitchell - Bordeleau
  • Johnson - Hejda
  • Sarich - Benoit
  • Barrie - Guenin
  • Varlamov (GAA 1.00 - SV% .967)
Keep in mind, these lineups are tentative: Matt Hunwick was recently placed on waivers meaning there is a possibility that Ryan Wilson makes his return from knee injury. Stick around for updates.

Washington is without defensemen John Erskine (upper-body) and Jack Hillen (broken right leg).

Check out Japer's Rink for more coverage.

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5:00pm MT / 7:00pm ET
TV: ALT, CSN-DC


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