Capitals, Blackhawks headed in different directions (Feb 16, 2018)

February 16, 2018

CHICAGO -- The Washington Capitals will try to extend their point streak to six games when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night at the United Center.

Washington (33-17-7) is in first place in the Eastern Conference's Metropolitan Division and is looking to reach the playoffs for the 10th time in the past 11 seasons. The Capitals have posted a 3-0-2 record in their past five games and have scored at least three goals in nine straight.

A much uglier streak has derailed Chicago (24-26-8), which is winless in its past eight games. The Blackhawks have dropped seven games in a row on home ice and are 12-13-3 at the United Center, where they have dominated for years.

"The results sting," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said to the Chicago Tribune.

Chicago has not won since beating Nashville 2-1 on Jan. 30.

"Sometimes when it rains, it pours," Blackhawks left winger Brandon Saad said to the Tribune. "It's kind of snowballing in the wrong direction. There are some games that could have bounced the other way, hit posts, stuff like that. But at the end of the day, it's a game of results, and we're not getting them right now."

Washington coach Barry Trotz has not always been happy with his team's results, but he liked what he saw Thursday night as the Capitals blew past the Minnesota Wild for a 5-2 victory.

"I thought there (weren't) any passengers tonight," Trotz told the Capitals' official website before the team flew to Chicago. "When we needed a big save, we got it. When we needed a big kill, we got it. So the group did a really good job."

Goaltender Braden Holtby is expected to start for Washington. The NHL's 2015-16 Vezina Trophy winner has a 28-10-4 record with a 2.82 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in 42 games this season.

In nine career outings against Chicago, Holtby is 7-2-0 with a 2.21 GAA and a .930 save percentage.

The Blackhawks will counter with Anton Forsberg in net while No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford remains out with an upper-body injury.

Forsberg is 5-11-3 with a 3.06 GAA and .907 save percentage in 22 games this season. He has faced the Capitals twice in his career, allowing three goals in 19:27 for an outlandish 9.25 GAA to go with an .813 save percentage.

This will mark the second and final meeting of the regular season between the teams. Washington rolled to a 6-2 win at home on Dec. 6 behind four points each from Tom Wilson (two goals, two assists) and Alex Ovechkin (one goal, three assists).

Ovechkin leads the Capitals with 65 points (34 goals, 31 assists) in 57 games. The 32-year-old is the franchise's career leader with 592 goals and 1,100 points in 978 games.

Patrick Kane leads the Blackhawks with 53 points (21 goals, 32 assists) in 58 games, but he has only one goal in his past 12 games. Nick Schmaltz is next on the scoring list with 39 points (15 goals, 24 assists) in 54 games, and rookie Alex DeBrincat has 38 points (21 goals, 17 assists) in 58 games.

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