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Posted at 07:08 AM ET, 11/03/2010

First period looms large for Caps

The Capitals understand the kind of opportunity they're presented with in a month where nine of 14 games will be played in the friendly confines of Verizon Center. They are 4-1 at home so far this season and finished with the league's best home record in 2009-10 with a 30-5-6 record.

To seize this chance to gain points and ground in the Eastern Conference though, the Capitals wouldn't mind having the help of a stronger showing in the first period. Washington's ability to come from behind -- the Caps are 5-3 this season when an opponent scores first and was 16-8-6 last year -- has never been in question, but that doesn't mean it's an ideal situation either.

Claiming a lead in the first period can only help the Capitals' cause. After all, they were 28-6-5 when doing so last season.

"These games are a great opportunity," Tomas Fleischmann said. "But for us, we have to prepare for every game and really for the first periods. They haven't been that great for us so far."

Through 11 games, the Capitals have scored five of their 34 goals this year in the first period and Alex Ovechkin, who posted a team-best 16 goals and 33 points in the first last year, has yet to tally a point in the opening 20 minutes.

Updates on Mike Knuble's scoring struggles, and how adding Alexander Semin to a line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom changes things for the Caps.

Box Seats blogger Kareem El-Alaily examines the most divisive issue among Caps fans: Jeff Schultz.

If you missed it yesterday, Michal Neuvirth was named the NHL's October rookie of the month.

The Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek discusses the defense-oriented Mike Green.

Not only did the Maple Leafs lose 3-2 to the Senators last night, but they will also likely be without captain Dion Phaneuf, who left the game with a cut to his leg, tonight against the Capitals. (Toronto Star, Globe and Mail)

By  |  07:08 AM ET, 11/03/2010

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