Open thread: Capitals at Wild

January 4

Minnesota Wild center Charlie Coyle jumps to avoid the puck as Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby looks on back on Nov. 7 when the two teams met at Verizon Center. The Capitals won that contest, 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Braden Holtby (13-10-2, 3.00 goals-against average, .915 save percentage) will make his first start in two weeks Saturday against the slumping Wild. Minnesota, which lost six straight before capturing a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres Thursday night, will go with Niklas Backstrom (3-9-2, 3.16 goals-against average, .896 save percentage) with Josh Harding still sidelined by an illness.

While the Wild have struggled, they’re still one of the stingier teams in the league giving up an average of 2.23 goals per game and only allow an average of 27 shots a game against. Coach Adam Oates wants to make sure the Capitals are prepared to win a low-scoring game.

“First point that will come out of my mouth is they don’t give you a lot, so that means you’ve got to prepare for a grinding game, 2-1 game type of thing that you’re not going to get a lot of shots,” Oates said. “You’ve got to be willing to wait your turn. That’s a huge mental adjustment.”

As always, discuss the game right here and pass the time before puck drop with these reads.

Holtby ready for another start | How he worked to improve during the layoff

Greenberg: Rangers’ Kreider is top rookie through first half

A midterm assessment of the Caps, who are half-finished

Faceoff: 8 p.m. (EST), Xcel Energy Center
TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM

Here is the Capitals’ lineup.

Forwards
Johansson-Backstrom-Brouwer
Fehr-Grabovski-Ovechkin
Chimera-Laich-Ward
Erat-Beagle-Wilson

Defense
Alzner-Carlson
Orlov-Green
Erskine-Oleksy

Goal: Holtby, Grubauer.
Scratches: Aaron Volpatti, Michal Neuvirth and Alex Urbom.
LTIR: Michael Latta (lower body) and Jack Hillen (fractured tibial plateau)

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Katie Carrera · January 4

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