Another goal will make Alex Ovechkin the top scoring Russian-born player in NHL history, and if he does it in his next game, it’ll come against a franchise that’s featured some of his country’s greats, as well as a long-time teammate.
Washington visits Detroit Tuesday night (7 p.m. pregame, 7:30 faceoff on FOX Sports Detroit) with Ovechkin seeking a goal in his fourth straight game — No. 484 to move him past former Red Wings star and Capitals teammate Sergei Fedorov — as Mike Green faces his former team for the first time.
Fedorov, who is part of this year’s Hall of Fame class, will also be honored at the game.
"I respect what he did for Russian hockey, what he did for my career and what experience he gave me," Ovechkin told the team’s official website. "It’s going to be a special moment."
Ovechkin matched Fedorov – whom he played with in Washington in 2008-09 – with a goal in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout win over Toronto and also converted the decisive shootout chance.
"That’s what (Ovechkin) has done here for a long time – big goals at big times," coach Barry Trotz said. "When you needed him to step up, he does. That’s what stars do, and he’s a star. There’s no question, he’s a golden star."
His goals helped the Capitals (10-3-0) match the 1991-92 team for the best 13-game start in team history. Since a 5-0 loss to San Jose in the second game of the season, they’ve averaged 3.36 goals per game.
"It’s just a continuation from last year," said forward Brooks Laich, who’s probable to play with a lower-body injury. "Last year, I think the first 20 games we were maybe .500, still figuring things out with the new staffs, the new systems and the new terminology and a couple new players.
"This year, it’s just a continuation. It’s the same system, same structure, same staff. I think it’s pretty easy on us players. Everything is in your mind and your body from last year, so it allows you to just free up and play."
It’s a system Green came to know well in 10 seasons with the Capitals before signing with Detroit this offseason.
"I obviously know their habits and how they play," Green told the team’s official website. "We expect them to come out pretty hard. They’re a very offensive-minded team. We’ll be prepared for sure."
His time in Washington included plenty of recent success against Detroit with the Capitals going 6-1-1 in the series dating to the start of 2011-12, including 3-0-1 at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings (7-6-1) had a three-game winning streak come to an end in Sunday’s 4-1 home loss to Dallas. They’ve been limited to five goals in the last three games, and offensive help isn’t far off with Pavel Datsyuk returning to practice, though he won’t play Tuesday.
Instead they’ll hope for Justin Abdelkader to break out. The forward is without a goal in 12 games after scoring four in the first two games of the season. He’s scored three in his last three games against the Capitals.
"I’ve had chances," Abdelkader said. "… I think I can do a better job around the net and on the forecheck. We’re going through a tough time as far as goal scoring five on five. The league’s tight. We have to find ways to score and find ways to be better."
Jimmy Howard left the game against the Stars after being kneed in the head, and despite passing concussion tests, Petr Mrazek will face Washington.
Mrazek faced the Capitals for the first time last season, losing twice with a 2.12 goals-against average.
Washington’s Braden Holtby has won his last two starts with a 1.46 GAA and is 3-0-0 in Detroit.