Jan. 7 vs. Ottawa Senators at Capital One Arena
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Radio: Capitals Radio 24/7, 106.7 FAN
Ottawa Senators 16-21-5
Washington Capitals 29-9-5
The Caps conclude a quick two-game homestand on Tuesday night when the Ottawa Senators make the first of their two trips to the District this season. The Sens are one of only four teams in the league the Caps haven't faced yet this season, and the only Atlantic Division team the Caps haven't played.
Washington brings a modest two-game winning run into Tuesday's game, and it is coming off one of the most improbable comebacks in its franchise history, a 5-4 overtime stunner over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday afternoon.
Down 4-2 with exactly one minute remaining in regulation, the Caps rallied for a pair of 6-on-5 goals just 32 seconds apart to force overtime. In the extra session, Braden Holtby made a pair of stellar saves, sparking Lars Eller's game-winner with a perfect stretch pass to John Carlson after the second of those stops.
Eller becomes the sixth different Capital to score an overtime game-winner this season, joining Jakub Vrana, Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, Dmitry Orlov and T.J. Oshie on the list. No other team in the league has as many as six different players with overtime winners, and the Caps have half a dozen different overtime lamplighters for the first time since 2011-12.
Vrana and Oshie, respectively, supplied the two 6-on-5 tallies in the final minute of regulation for Washington, and Braden Holtby made a pair of terrific saves in the extra session, setting the stage and the table - Holtby picked up a secondary assist on the game-winner - for Eller's overtime heroics. Those three goals were scored in a span of 2:48, making the Caps the first team in league history to allow an empty net goal in the final minute of regulation - while trying to win the game - and then going on to win the game in any fashion.
"Just a lot of resolve," says Oshie of the Caps' historic win. "The boys just kept going. There wasn't one of their goals that really got us down; I guess the empty-net goal I felt down for a couple of seconds there. But no, we just keep working, obviously.
"An outstanding job by Holts in overtime on the 2-on-1 and the breakaway, and we've got everyone tugging the rope, so when you have that, it's fun. Sometimes, you've got to get wins where maybe you shouldn't win or you're out of it, but when everyone's working and everyone's contributing, you can find ways to win."
Not only did the Caps win despite allowing an empty-net goal on Sunday, they also won despite giving up two power-play goals to the Sharks and despite Evander Kane notching a hat trick for San Jose. It was the first time Washington won a game in which an opposing player recorded a hat trick since a 6-5 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 2, 2014. Gustav Nyquist scored three goals for the Wings in that one.
Tuesday's game starts a set of back-to-back games for the Capitals, who will ride the rail to Philadelphia afterwards for a Wednesday night date with the Flyers. Washington swept the three-game season's series with the Senators last season, and the Caps have won 11 of their last 12 games against Ottawa while putting together a 13-game point streak (12-0-1) against the Sens.
Ottawa has played well at home (11-7-2) this season, but only Detroit (four) has fewer road victories than the Sens, who have won only five of 22 road games (5-14-3) in 2019-20. The Senators are seeking their first road win in over a month; they've dropped five straight (0-3-2) on the road since claiming a 5-2 in Edmonton on Dec. 4.
The Senators are starting a two-game road swing on Tuesday; they visit the Wings in Detroit on Friday. Ottawa is lugging a four-game losing streak (0-3-1) with it to D.C. on Tuesday. The Sens' last win came on Dec. 23 in their final game ahead of the NHL's holiday break when they beat Buffalo, 3-1. Since then, the Senators have yielded at least four goals in each of their four losses, and have been outscored by a combined 20-11.