Red Wings-Capitals Preview
The last time he faced the Detroit Red Wings, Alex Ovechkin was in midst of a dubious streak.
He’ll take a much more positive one into the next matchup.
The Washington Capitals superstar will try to score a goal in a sixth consecutive game and help his team extend its season-high home win streak Saturday night against the short-handed Red Wings.
Ovechkin went a career-worst five straight games without a point in October, the last of which was a 4-2 home loss to Detroit on the 29th.
The three-time MVP’s fortunes have been much better since Halloween.
He has 16 goals and 14 assists in the past 31 contests, and his five-game goal streak is one shy of matching the second longest of his career. Ovechkin last scored in six consecutive contests Jan. 13-23, 2008, trailing only his Capitals’ rookie-record seven-game run Feb. 10-March 8, 2006.
His early power-play goal in Philadelphia on Thursday, however, wasn’t enough to spark Washington to a season-high fourth consecutive victory. The Capitals (21-11-8) blew a pair of one-goal leads in a 3-2 overtime loss.
"It’s always tough to lose, no matter how you lose," forward Nicklas Backstrom said. "We wanted two points but we just got one. The good thing is there is a new game on Saturday."
Washington, 11-1-4 in its last 16, looks to rebound with a fifth consecutive home win as it faces a team that won’t have one of its top forwards for at least the near future. The Red Wings (22-10-9) placed Johan Franzen on injured reserve Thursday.
Franzen, who has seven goals and 15 assists in 33 games, sat out Detroit’s latest stop on a six-game road trip Wednesday and was joined on the injured list by Tomas Jurco. The Red Wings dealt with a number of injuries last season but extended their franchise-best playoff streak to 23 seasons.
That experience has seemed to pay dividends for other players and Detroit has reached this season’s halfway point in better position.
The Red Wings were 18-14-9 in their first 41 games of 2013-14 and in fourth place in the Atlantic Division. They’re currently in third, five points ahead of fourth-place Boston and one behind Montreal in second.
"I think we’re more consistent and a little deeper," captain Henrik Zetterberg said.
Justin Abdelkader helped make up for the latest absences by scoring a key third-period goal and assisting on Zetterberg’s second-period score in a 3-2 victory over Calgary on Thursday.
Abdelkader has recorded two goals and three assists in the Red Wings’ back-to-back victories, which have put them at 2-1-0 on their longest trip so far this season.
Abdelkader scored two of the Wings’ three goals in the third period and added an assist against Washington in October. That win ended the team’s four-game skid in the nation’s capital, but the Capitals are 4-1-1 in the last six matchups.
The Red Wings are looking for their first three-game road win streak since a four-game run Nov. 24-Dec. 6, 2013. Gustav Nyquist will try to contribute by adding to his five-goal, two-assist total in four career games against Washington.
Before failing to record a point in the latest meeting, Ovechkin had nine goals and seven assists in his first 11 games against Detroit.
Washington has produced a six-game home win streak in each of the last two seasons.