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Caps Come Home to Host Sens

The Caps close out the February portion of their schedule and finish off a set of back-to-backs on Tuesday against the Senators

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps /

Feb. 27 vs. Ottawa Senators at Capital One Arena 

Time: 7:00 p.m.

TV: NBC Sports Washington 

Radio: FAN 106.7, Capitals Radio 24/7

Washington Capitals 35-21-7

Ottawa Senators 21-30-10

Washington hosts the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena in the last of the three meetings between the two teams this season. Tuesday's game also finishes off the February portion of the schedule for the Capitals and closes out a set of back-to-back games.

The Caps spent Monday night in Columbus, taking a 5-1 whacking at the hands of the Blue Jackets. After the Caps won the first three meetings between the two Metropolitan Division rivals this season, the Jackets came out with a lot of juice and some new blood in their lineup on Monday, and they rolled right over the Caps. 

Columbus added defenseman Ian Cole and forwards Mark Letestu and Thomas Vanek in a trio of trades during the 24 hours leading up to Monday afternoon's NHL trade deadline, and the Jackets came out on fire, scoring four goals - including two on the power play - on 16 shots in the game's first 20 minutes. 

The Blue Jackets' barrage chased Braden Holtby from the net for the third time in nine starts this month. Holtby has now allowed at least one first-period goal in each of his last 11 starts, and he has surrendered multiple goals in the first in three of his last four starts. Monday's loss leaves him lugging a six-game personal losing streak, the longest of his NHL career.

Caps captain Alex Ovechkin supplied the lone bright spot for Washington on the night. Playing in his 984th career game to take hold of sole possession of the top spot on the Capitals' all-time games played list, Ovechkin netted his league-leading 39th goal of the season from his left dot office on a Washington power play at 6:57 of the first period. That goal tied the game at 1-1, effectively answering Artemi Panarin's one-time blast from a similar spot less than two minutes earlier on a Blue Jackets power play. 

But Columbus regained the lead for good less than a minute later, and the Jackets kept pouring it on, ultimately earning their first victory over the Capitals in four tries this season. 

"We've just got to get the next game, that's my concern," says Caps coach Barry Trotz. "Whatever has happened in the past, we can't correct it now. We've just got to correct the things going forward. To me, Tuesday [against Ottawa] is a huge game for us." 

The Caps opened the season against the Senators in Ottawa way back on Oct. 5, taking a 5-4 shootout decision. Washington also won the second meeting between the two teams this season.

Ottawa was a goal away from reaching the Stanley Cup final last spring, falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final. The Sens went from that lofty status to that of also-rans this season, and they were active in moving pieces and parts out of town in the days leading up to Monday's NHL trade deadline.

Ottawa moved center Derrick Brassard to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and then moved out defenseman Ian Cole - part of the return they got in the Brassard deal - to Columbus on Monday. The Sens also sent center Nick Shore to Calgary. Earlier this month, they moved defenseman Dion Phaneuf to the Kings in a multiplayer deal that brought veteran forward Marian Gaborik to the Senators. 

The bottom line is that the Sens you see on Tuesday in Washington will look vastly different from the Ottawa team that visited here earlier in the season, in a 5-2 Caps win just over three months ago, on Nov. 22. 

Ottawa has only 21 wins in 61 games this season, but the Senators have six wins in February (6-6-1), which is one more than Washington has over the same span (5-6-2). The Sens come to town lugging a four-game losing streak (0-3-1), and they've also lost five straight road games (0-4-1). 

For the Senators, Tuesday's game is the opener of a four-game road trip. The Sens will continue west from Washington, traveling to Las Vegas, Arizona and Dallas before returning home to host Buffalo on March 8. 

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