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After 102 Days, Capitals ‘Excited’ For Home Opener Against Winnipeg


ARLINGTON – It will happen 102 days after it was supposed to, but on Tuesday night, the Washington Capitals will play their first game of the season at Verizon Center.

“I think guys are excited,” Jason Chimera said. “It’s always a good crowd at Verizon. It’s always rocking. Hopefully we get a couple early goals and get them rocking even more.”

The owners’ lockout cost teams the first 34 games of the season and have forced them to play a modified 48-game schedule that began Saturday and will stretch into late April.

Washington, supposed to host New Jersey in the season opener Oct. 12, instead visited Tampa Bay in the first game and will welcome Winnipeg on Tuesday.

“Everybody excited,” Alex Ovechkin said. “We’re going to play in [front of] our fans [at] our home, and so it’s going to be an interesting game for us.”

A sold-out crowd of 19,204 watched the Lightning defeat the Capitals 6-3 on Saturday, and the start of the season, coupled with “Fan Appreciation Night” promotions, led to an atmosphere that Ovechkin described as being similar to that a team would encounter in the playoffs.

The team is planning on showing a video thanking the fans and welcoming them back to the Verizon Center before the start of the game.

Principal owner Ted Leonsis said last week that he was never concerned about fans supporting the Capitals after the lockout. He greeted fans during an open practice the team held at the arena last Thursday, none of whom made any semblance of a complaint.

“When you miss something that you love to watch or love to play, I think you come back to it eventually, and I think people eventually come back,” Chimera said. “It’s a great sport to watch and a great sport to play.”


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