Capitals-Senators Preview

A two-week slide has dropped the Washington Capitals from the

top of the Southeast Division standings. Getting back there might

not come easy with a visit to Ottawa up next.

The Capitals can avoid their ninth straight loss by snapping a

four-game road skid against the Senators on Sunday.

A fixture atop the division for virtually the entire season,

Washington (18-12-4) fell into a tie for second with Tampa Bay

after a 3-2 loss at Boston and Atlanta’s 7-1 win over New Jersey,

both Saturday.

Washington has not dropped nine in a row since Feb. 25-March 15,


Though the Capitals remained competitive despite a 3-0

first-period deficit and outshot the Bruins 26-2 in the third

period, they have totaled 11 goals during the losing stretch.

“It was embarrassing for us,” said defenseman Karl Alzner, who

scored his second goal of the season. “We came in after the first

period and said, ‘We can’t keep playing like that.'”

Star Alex Ovechkin has been held without a point in three

straight games and has only two goals in his last 16 contests. The

potential of being without leading goal scorer Alexander Semin for

a second straight contest with a lower-body injury likely won’t

help Washington’s chances of winning for the first time since Dec.


Though Ovechkin had a goal in Washington’s 3-2 overtime home win

over the Senators on Oct. 11, he has just two assists during the

Capitals’ skid at Ottawa that dates to an 8-6 victory on Dec. 29,


Despite Washington’s current woes and recent struggles in

Ottawa, the Senators are well aware of the challenge they face.

“We have a huge game against Washington,” Senators coach Cory

Clouston said. “Every point is a big point.”

Ottawa (14-16-4) returns home after winning 3-1 at Minnesota on

Thursday and losing 6-5 in overtime at Colorado the next night.

“For the last two games, we’ve played pretty well,” forward Ryan

Shannon told the Senators’ official website. “(The Capitals have)

gone through a little bit of rough patch, so it’s an opportunity to

get a win at home.”

Captain Daniel Alfredsson has goals in three consecutive games

after going 12 straight without one. He has one goal and four

assists in his last three game versus the Capitals, but was held

without a point when the teams met in October.

Center Chris Kelly, who had two assists versus the Avalanche,

has a goal and four assists in his last four games.

Brian Elliott could be back in goal after making 19 saves while

being pressed into service Friday when scheduled starter Pascal

Leclaire suffered a lower-leg injury during warmups.

Though Elliott is 0-2-3 with a 3.48 goals-against average since

a 3-0 win over Toronto on Nov. 27, he’s 4-0-0 despite a 4.03 GAA

against the Capitals.

Washington’s Michal Neuvirth stopped 29 shots against Ottawa in

October, but made only 15 saves while losing his fifth straight

start Saturday.

Teammate Semyon Varlamov has a 3.72 GAA during a personal

four-game skid, and has given up 10 goals while going 0-1-1 against

the Senators.