Devils-Capitals Preview

Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom are major reasons why the

Washington Capitals’ power play has been surging.

Neither has mustered much the last three times they have seen

Martin Brodeur.

Brodeur will likely start Saturday night for the New Jersey

Devils when they try to end the Capitals’ three-game home win

streak.

Washington (19-13-3) has seen its power play go 9 for 19 in the

last five games after the unit scored three times in Friday’s 4-2

win at Carolina. The Capitals are converting on 26.3 percent of

their chances to rank second in the NHL behind Pittsburgh.

Ovechkin scored his 400th goal into an empty net after Troy

Brouwer, Marcus Johansson and John Carlson all scored with the man

advantage. Backstrom assisted on all the goals and leads the league

with 21 assists on the power play.

“As we all know, he’s a pretty good goal-scorer,” Backstrom

said. “It’s always fun to see a player accomplish something big and

I think 400 goals in however many games he has, it’s great. We all

know he’s a great player.”

Ovechkin took 634 games to become the sixth-fastest skater to

reach 400 goals behind Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux,

Brett Hull and Jari Kurri.

“It’s a big number and to be in this kind of company, it’s a

tremendous honor for me,” Ovechkin said. “I said a couple weeks ago

I never felt like I was gonna be in this position when I started

playing in the NHL.”

Ovechkin has a league-best 29 goals with an NHL-high 12 coming

on the power play. He has nine points in his last five games while

Backstrom has 14 points in a five-game point streak.

Getting untracked Saturday could be a problem since that duo has

produced no goals and two assists the last three times it has seen

Brodeur, who has a 2.22 goals-against average in that span and

three victories.

Brodeur figures to be back in goal after Cory Schneider started

Friday’s 3-2 overtime home loss to Anaheim. Andy Greene’s goal with

5:02 left in regulation helped the Devils (14-15-7) gain a point to

cap a 2-0-1 homestand.

Schneider made 21 saves before he failed to stop Kyle Palmieri

in overtime.

“It’s nice to at least get a point against a good team like

that,” Schneider said. “It hurts to not get the two points. It’s

another tough loss for us and I’ve got to find a way to make that

last save.”

Jaromir Jagr’s assist stretched his point streak to a

season-best six games. He has one goal and seven assists in that

stretch.

The Devils are sixth in the league on the penalty kill at 86.1

percent and stopped all four chances by the Ducks.

Winger Damien Brunner did not return after he was helped off the

ice late in the first period following a knee-on-knee hit along the

boards by Anaheim’s Mark Fistric.

These teams have not met this season. Patrik Elias had two goals

and two assists to help New Jersey win two of three meetings last

season.

Caps coach Adam Oates hopes that the Devils will be a tired

bunch when they arrive in town.

“We just watched New Jersey play in overtime, every minute

helps,” Oates said. “We were short-manned there, a lot of guys

played minutes. Every second counts, the fatigue factor is very

important.”