Capitals host Ducks in search of eighth straight win

The Washington Capitals won their first Stanley Cup last season, but it’s been some time since they’ve enjoyed a run like this.

For that, they can thank Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson.

The Capitals go for their eighth straight victory Sunday afternoon against the Anaheim Ducks.

Washington (15-7-3) extended its streak with a 6-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night. It’s the Capitals’ longest run since reeling off nine straight wins from Dec. 31, 2016 to Jan. 15, 2017.

Backstrom led the way Friday with his second career hat trick and an assist. He’s been one key to Washington’s offense during the streak with 12 points (five goals, seven assists), and leads the team with 23 assists and 32 points this season.

“I think he’s had a really strong year. For me, it’s the best I have seen him play through 20-plus games in the start of a season,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said of Backstrom.

Backstrom has five goals in his last five matchups with the Ducks at Capital One Arena.

Wilson chipped in with a short-handed goal in his 400th career game before drawing a match penalty for hitting the Devils’ Brett Seney from behind. Wilson, who had a 20-game suspension for an illegal check during the preseason reduced to 14 games, is expected to be in the lineup as the league announced Saturday that there will be no additional punishment for the hit.

“Anytime I’m involved in contact, it’s assumed that I’m skating away and it’s a match penalty. It (stinks), but that’s what it is,” Wilson said Saturday. “I just have to keep trying to play my game and produce and help the team win. As we saw, I have to be very, very careful about any type of contact.”

With six goals in a five-game scoring streak, Wilson is also tied with Backstrom for the team lead with 12 points during the Caps’ run.

Anaheim (13-10-5) closes a five-game swing in search of its season-high fourth straight victory. Pontus Aberg scored late in the third period and Ryan Getzlaf found the back of the net on a breakaway in overtime of a 2-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.

“We’re finding ways,” Getzlaf told the team’s official website. “Tonight was one of the ugliest games we played on the trip. We found a way, got one late and our goaltender was outstanding.”

Getzlaf, who leads the team with 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) was talking about John Gibson. He’s turned aside 75 of 78 shots while winning each of his last two starts and has seen the team evolve.

“It kind of seemed like at the beginning of the year we were finding ways to lose,” he told the Orange County Register after a 34-save effort Friday. “You’re starting to see we’re finding a way to win some games we thought we were maybe out of and maybe shouldn’t have won.”

But Gibson has given up eight goals while losing each of his last two starts in Washington. Ryan Miller, who made 34 saves in a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, needs one win to tie John Vanbiesbrouck for most by a goaltender born in the United States with 374.

Washington superstar Alex Ovechkin has goals in four straight games and has 19 on the season. He has one goal in his last five games against Anaheim, and 11 points (seven goals, four assists) during the Caps’ winning streak.