CAPITALS (2-1-1) at RED WINGS (1-2-0)
Season series: This is the first of two meetings this season. In 2008-09, these teams met once, a 4-2 home win for the Capitals. Alexander Ovechkin scored twice, and Mike Green and Viktor Kozlov added a goal apiece. Goaltender Jose Theodore stopped 27 of 29 shots for the victory. Johan Franzen and Ville Leino scored for
Big story: This is the marquee matchup of Saturday night -- the high-flying Capitals, led by Alexander Ovechkin, visiting the dominant Red Wings, Stanley Cup finalists each of the last two seasons. The star power in this contest is of the mega-watt variety, though one key name will be missing: Franzen is out at least four months with a torn ACL in his left knee, it was announced Friday.
This is the 97th all-time meeting between these clubs, and
Neither goaltender -- Jose Theodore or Semyon Varlamov -- has taken a firm grip on the No. 1 job, though coach Bruce Boudreau calls the veteran Theodore the primary starter. Through four games each has made at least two appearances. After trading starts in the first two games (both wins), Varlamov (1-0-0, 5.11 GAA) made a second consecutive start on Oct. 6 and was bombed in
Red Wings: It certainly hasn't been an easy start to the season for the two-time Stanley Cup finalists. After two disappointing losses in
Chris Osgood, in his 16th season, is 10 wins away from becoming the 10th goaltender in League history to reach 400 career regular season victories. Since rejoining the Red Wings prior to the 2005-06 season, Osgood is 85-28-18 in regular-season play and 29-12 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Who's hot: Backstrom and Semin each have four consecutive multiple-point games to start the season. Backstrom has two 2-point contests and two 3-point performances. In his last game, he scored his first 2 goals of the season in a loss against the Rangers. Semin has three 2-point games and one 3-point contest. He is also currently riding a three-game goal streak.
Dan Cleary and Niklas Kronwall were the only Red Wings to record a point in both games against the Blues in
Injury report: The Capitals are without center Tomas Fleischmann (blood clot in leg), who is on injured reserve. For the Red Wings, Franzen joins defenseman Andreas Lilja (concussion) and center Darren Helm (shoulder) on injured reserve.
Stat pack: Backstrom is the first player with 10 points in his team's first four games since Martin Havlat accomplished the feat in 2006-07 with
Before being held scoreless last Thursday, Ovechkin became the third player in NHL history to record 3 or more points in his team's first three games of the season. He joined Hall of Famers Guy Lafleur of the 1975-76 Montreal Canadiens and Peter Stastny of the 1982-83 Quebec Nordiques.
Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom is two points shy of becoming the eighth defenseman in League history to reach 1,000, joining Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, Al MacInnis, Phil Housley, Larry Murphy, Denis Potvin and Brian Leetch.
Puck drop: The veteran Red Wings are so battle-tested that nothing should really faze them, but playing
-- Rocky Bonanno, NHL.com