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Although the final scores have been getting closer, the New Jersey Devils are still riding a season-high winning streak. They may have to play yet another tight game Tuesday if they want to keep their run going.
Following back-to-back overtime victories, the Atlantic Division-leading Devils look to win their ninth straight game when they host red-hot Alex Ovechkin and the Southeast Division-leading Washington Capitals.
New Jersey (32-15-3) won five of the first six games in its streak by at least two goals, and knocked off Ottawa and East-leading Boston by three goals apiece last week to extend the run to seven. The Devils, though, have had to work overtime to earn their last two victories.
On Friday, Jamie Langenbrunner tied the score with 31 seconds left in regulation, then scored his third straight winner with a minute left in the extra period as the Devils defeated Pittsburgh 4-3. New Jersey, which has a five-point lead over the second-place New York Rangers in the Atlantic, has not won nine consecutive games since Nov. 17-Dec. 7, 2007.
Langenbrunner's winning goal Friday was his second straight overtime tally in as many days. He scored 1:11 into OT in Thursday's 4-3 victory over Boston after Patrik Elias tied it with 1:45 remaining in regulation.
"I don't think we want to start playing that game," Langenbrunner said. "I think we feel we are a team that isn't going to worry about anything. We're going to keep playing the whole game, especially the last 10 games or so, we've done a great job of playing a full game and the results speak for themselves."
Langenbrunner has scored two goals in each of the Devils' three games since the All-Star break, giving him 14 on the season - one more than he had in 2007-08.
"I deserved a little luck after the first half of the year," said Langenbrunner, who has a goal and two assists in the three games against Washington (32-15-4) this season.
Those three matchups came in the first five weeks, and the teams haven't met since New Jersey's 6-5 shootout win Nov. 15. The Devils are 2-1-0 against Washington this season, with both victories coming in shootouts.
The Capitals are coming off Sunday's 7-4 win over Ottawa, with Ovechkin recording his seventh career hat trick and second of the season.
The reigning NHL MVP scored twice in Saturday's 4-2 win over Detroit, and has recorded four multi-goal games in his last seven contests to raise his league-leading goal total to 36. In his fourth season, Ovechkin has 199 goals.
"(His 200th goal) will be a minuscule milestone in his career," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Ovechkin has three goals and three assists in the three games versus the Devils this season, and four goals and nine assists during a 10-game point streak against them.
Washington has won two straight and is 5-1-1 since Jan. 14 after picking up no points in the previous three contests. The Capitals have a 13-point lead over second-place Carolina in the Southeast.
Washington's Jose Theodore was given the day off Sunday, but is expected to be back in net Tuesday. He's 1-0-1 with a 2.90 goals-against average in two games versus the Devils this season, and 5-13-1 with a 2.71 GAA lifetime against them.
New Jersey's Scott Clemmensen has been in net for seven games during New Jersey's winning streak, posting a 1.98 GAA in those contests. He's 1-1-0 with a 3.38 GAA against the Capitals this season.
Washington will be without captain Chris Clark, who's expected to miss the rest of the season because of a wrist injury that will require surgery. Clark last played last Tuesday, and appeared in 32 games with one goal and five assists this season.