Canucks-Capitals Preview

The Washington Capitals are failing to perform up to their own
lofty standards on offense. Correcting those woes won’t be easy
against the owners of the NHL’s best record.

The Capitals will try to avoid a fourth loss in five games
Friday night when they host the Vancouver Canucks.

Washington (24-13-7) captured the Presidents’ Trophy last season
due largely to its NHL-best 3.8 goals per game. While still in the
thick of the playoff race, the Capitals are scoring a full goal
less per game in 2010-11.

“We haven’t been scoring as many goals as we’re used to,”
defenseman Mike Green said. “We’re not getting guys going to the
net and we’re not throwing pucks at the net when we should. That’s
the hardest part is not getting frustrated and staying composed.
You go through your ups and downs, and that’s just the way it seems
to go.”

The Capitals suffered their sixth shutout of the season – two
more than their total from the previous two campaigns combined –
Wednesday, falling 3-0 at Tampa Bay.

Alex Ovechkin, who scored 50 goals in 2009-10, has three in his
last 15 games and 15 on the season, putting him on pace to finish
well short of his previous career low of 46. The Capitals are
10-2-1 when he scores at least one goal.

Washington has dropped 11 of its last 18, but coach Bruce
Boudreau is excited to see how his team responds against the
front-runner for this season’s Presidents’ Trophy.

“We’re facing a juggernaut, there’s no ifs ands about it,”
Boudreau said. “They’ve got strength right through their lineup and
they’re going to be a very difficult team to beat, but its a
tremendous challenge for us. It’s a great test – and we’re looking
forward to it.”

Alexander Semin, third on the Capitals with 35 points, is
expected to miss his third consecutive game while defenseman Tom
Poti is also unlikely to be available. Both players are dealing
with lower-body injuries.

The Canucks (28-9-6) failed to record a point Thursday for the
first time in 18 games, falling 1-0 at the New York Rangers.

The loss ended a five-game road winning streak as well as Daniel
Sedin’s five-game point streak, during which he’d tallied five
goals and three assists. Sedin has two goals and no assists in nine
career games against Washington.

Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo received some extra rest Thursday
while Cory Schneider got the start. Schneider made 34 saves en
route to his first loss in regulation.

“There were two hot goaltenders on the ice (Thursday) and it was
a battle from start to finish,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault
said. “We had a couple of opportunities but their goaltender made
some good saves.”

Vancouver, which leads the league with a 27.5 road power-play
percentage, couldn’t convert in three chances versus the

Luongo, 13-1-2 with a 1.84 goals-against average in his last 16
starts, is likely to be back in goal to face the Capitals. He is
16-10-0 with three ties and a 2.26 goals-against average in his
career against Washington.