As Alex Ovechkin continues to climb the NHL’s career goal list, the Washington Capitals must rebound from their first defeat in almost three weeks.
Ovechkin and the visiting Capitals can do so with an eighth consecutive victory over the Ottawa Senators on Friday night.
With his 35th goal of the season and career No. 693 late in the first period on Wednesday against Nashville, Ovechkin passed Steve Yzerman for ninth on the league’s all-time goal list. Ovechkin is just one away from tying Mark Messier for eighth.
“A big honor to be on that list,” Ovechkin, who has scored nine times during a four-game goal streak, told NHL.com. “Kind of happy, but still a long way to go.”
It was another good night for Ovechkin, but the NHL-leading Capitals had their four-game winning streak end with a 5-4 home defeat to the Predators. Washington, which previously fell to New Jersey on Jan. 11, trailed 3-1 in the first period, but two second-period goals put it ahead 4-3, before Nashville scored twice in the third.
“It’s definitely self-inflicted,” forward Nic Dowd told the Capitals’ official website of the late collapse. “On a positive note, that means we can fix it.”
Facing Ottawa could also help.
The Capitals are amid a 14-1-1 stretch against the Senators, and have outscored them 33-13 during their seven-game winning streak in the series. Ovechkin has six goals with three assists over the last seven meetings versus Ottawa.
Teammate Braden Holtby has struggled while posting a 4.28 goals-against average in going 2-6-0 over his last nine starts. However, he has a 1.78 GAA during his 9-0-1 stretch against the Senators.
Backup Ilya Samsonov, though, stopped 26 shots while Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie each scored twice in Washington’s 6-1 home rout of Ottawa on Jan. 7. Samsonov has a stellar 1.66 goals-against average during his nine-start winning streak.
Though Ottawa sits near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, it’s amid a 2-0-1 stretch following an 0-5-4 rut. Tyler Ennis and Mile Reilly each had a goal with an assist as the Senators tallied a season-high three times on the power play in Tuesday’s 5-2 win at Buffalo.
“We’ve been in a lot of games. We kind of strung out some overtime losses there and gotten some points,” goalie Craig Anderson, who made 28 saves, told the Senators’ official website. “We haven’t been rewarded for our efforts, but we’ve just got to keep striving to get better and get rewarded for the good, hard work.”
Ottawa will try to win consecutive contests for the first time since a three-game run from Nov. 19-22. Anderson, meanwhile, snapped an 0-4-1 rut on Tuesday, but Marcus Hogberg (stopped 90 of 95 shots in last two games) could be in net as the Senators await the return of Anders Nilsson from a concussion.
Ennis has a goal in two straight games and four points in the last three. However, he’s been blanked in six consecutive contests versus Washington. Teammate Jean-Gabriel Pageau recorded his career-high 20th goal against the Sabres, but does not have a single point in 17 career games against the Capitals.
–Field Level Media