Ben Raby, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - The Washington Capitals will open an abbreviated 48-game regular season on the road Saturday, Jan. 19 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The team's 38th home opener is set for Tuesday, Jan. 22 against the Winnipeg Jets.
The Capitals released their schedule Saturday afternoon, shortly after the NHLPA voted in favor of ratifying the new collective bargaining agreement.
The abbreviated schedule is a result of the NHL's 113-day lockout and will see teams play exclusively within their conference.
"It's going be a sprint for sure," says first-year head coach Adam Oates. "But 48 games is still a lot of hockey. And there are a lot of bumps and bruises that go along with that. So I think it's still a long enough period of time to determine that it's a real season."
Oates played during the NHL's only other lockout-shortened season — a 48- game campaign in 1995 with the Boston Bruins — and finished tenth in league scoring that year with 53 points in 48 games.
The 1995 season played out over 15 weeks while this year's schedule is slightly more condensed with the same number of games to be played over a 14-week period.
"Guys know the importance of how quickly this is going to turn around," says forward Troy Brouwer. "Guys are going to have to be in shape because with a shortened season like this if you lose three games in a row out of the gates, you may not make the playoffs and that's right at the beginning of the season."
Washington will face opponents from the Atlantic and Northeast divisions three times each, while meeting divisional rivals Florida and Tampa Bay four times plus Carolina and Winnipeg five times each.
The Capitals are the only team in the NHL that will play three road games this season at Winnipeg's MTS Centre.
An unusual twist to the Capitals schedule has the team playing in Winnipeg on consecutive nights March 21 to 22. The back-to-back games in Winnipeg make up half of Washington's season-high four-game road trip which also includes games against the Pittsburgh Penguins (Tuesday, March 19) and the New York Rangers (Sunday, March 24).
The Capitals will also play consecutive home games against the same opponent when they host the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, Feb. 21 and Saturday, Feb. 23.
Other highlights on the Capitals' schedule include a Super Bowl Sunday matchup against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Feb. 3 meeting will be the Penguins' only visit to Verizon Center during the regular season.
The Capitals end the season with a three-game homestand against Winnipeg (April 23), Ottawa (April 25) and Boston (April 27).
The complete Washington Capitals 48-game schedule is included below:
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