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Capitals-Red Wings Preview

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The Detroit Red Wings are on the verge of matching the longest home losing streak in franchise history, and now a player who has been tough for them to stop is coming to town.

The Red Wings will try to avoid a seventh straight defeat at Joe Louis Arena and fifth in a row overall Friday night when they face Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.

Detroit is 0-1-5 at home since beating Columbus 2-1 on Oct. 15, recording its worst slide at Joe Louis since 1986. The only longer home losing streak the franchise has ever had was a seven-game skid Feb. 20-March 25, 1982.

The Red Wings (9-5-5) are wrapping up a four-game homestand having lost the first three after regulation, and they've matched their worst overall losing streak of the season at four.

Coach Mike Babcock, though, emphasized the positives after Tuesday's 3-2 shootout loss to Winnipeg.

"We didn't win but I thought we played good. I liked our game today, start to finish. We made some mistakes," Babcock said.

The Red Wings scored twice on the power play, killed off all three of the Jets' chances with the man advantage and finished with a 43-21 edge in shots.

"It's frustrating," said captain Henrik Zetterberg, who has nine points during a six-game run. "It's tough. We want to win, but right now we can't find a way."

Ovechkin has 14 goals to tie the injured Steven Stamkos for the Eastern Conference lead. He has points in all eight career games against the Red Wings, with seven goals and five assists.

"I think teams respect the Red Wings, especially in their building, it's going to be a hard game for us," said Ovechkin, who has four goals in four visits to Detroit.

The Red Wings are clearly wary of Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 5.9 shots per game.

"He can shoot it from anywhere," goalie Jimmy Howard told the Red Wings' website. "You got to expect the unexpected. You know he's a shooter and everyone's trying to get him the puck."

There's familiarity between Babcock and Washington coach Adam Oates, who played for him with Anaheim in 2002-03 - Babcock's first season as a coach and Oates' second-to-last as a player.

"It was his rookie year coaching and it was my last year basically and we kind of butted heads a little bit at the beginning but it was more because he didn't know me and I was an older guy and sometimes older guys can be difficult," Oates said. "Once we got through the first couple months, we hit it off great and he's a very good coach."

Oates has watched his league-leading power play dip to 25.6 percent after going 0 for 7 over the last two games. Washington (10-8-1) rallied for a 4-3 home victory over Columbus on Tuesday when Mikhail Grabovski scored with 1:45 left in regulation and Ovechkin scored in overtime.

The Red Wings will present a challenge since they have killed off 24 of opponents' last 25 power plays.

Ovechkin has close ties with Russian compatriot Pavel Datsyuk, who scored twice against the Jets but has no goals in his last seven games against the Capitals.

Detroit waived forward Patrick Eaves on Thursday. Eaves played in just three games and had no points.

The Capitals have taken four of the last six meetings between franchises that met in the 1998 Stanley Cup finals.

Tagged: Red Wings, Capitals, Alex Ovechkin

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