January 24 vs. Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Radio: 104.7 FM and Capitals Radio 24/7
Washington Capitals 32-9-6
Ottawa Senators 25-15-5
After making a short stop at home to face the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night, the Capitals are back on the road on Tuesday, taking on the Senators in Ottawa. Tuesday's game between the Caps and the Sens is the third meeting between the two teams in a span of 24 days, and it closes out the season's series.
The Caps drubbed the Hurricanes by a 6-1 count in that island of a home contest, a game surrounded on both sides by stretches of three road games. Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov scored twice - including the first power-play goal of his NHL career - and three of Washington's four lines scored at even strength while the fourth stymied Carolina's Jordan Staal trio.
Braden Holtby made 25 saves to earn his 23rd victory of the season, and the Caps kept the Canes off the board at even strength, surrendering the lone Carolina tally on a Hurricanes power play. The Caps have been scoring goals in droves lately, so holding the Canes to a single marker on Monday may have been more important to Washington, which entered the contest having allowed three or more goals in three straight games for the first time this season.
"We were going really well, keeping a lot of pucks out of the net," says Caps defenseman Karl Alzner, who had two assists in the win over Carolina. "I think maybe it was a surprise to some teams, given the competition we've had in the last 10 or 15 games or so.
"We're going to let some in every now and then. The fact that we can play good enough and not get thrown off our game, and come back and win some of these games is a good pat on the back, a feather in the cap. We're on a good track right now and we just hope the puck luck keeps going our way."
Monday's win pushed the Capitals' point streak to 14 straight games (12-0-2), just one shy of the franchise record. Washington went 14-0-1 during a similar portion of the 2009-10 season. The Capitals have now scored four or more goals in eight straight games within the same season for the first time in more than a quarter of a century, since an 11-game run with four or more lamplighters from Oct. 27-Nov. 22, 1991.
"I think you see the desire every night to keep winning and I think it shows," says Caps center Lars Eller. "Everybody is having fun right now."
Washington is in the midst of a stretch in which it plays six of seven games on the road. The Caps journey to New Jersey to take on the Devils on Thursday night in their final game before the NHL's All-Star break, and they'll return to the New York metropolitan area immediately after the break to face the New York Islanders.
The Capitals are 13-4-5 on the road this season, and they come into Tuesday's game having won each of their previous two road tilts, and with a six-game road point streak (5-0-1) in the works. The Caps have collected at least a point in 11 of their previous dozen road contests (8-1-3).
Among those recent road victories was a 1-0 triumph over the Senators in Ottawa earlier this month, on Jan. 7. T.J. Oshie scored the game's only goal in the second minute of the first period that night, and Caps center Nicklas Backstrom notched the 500th assist of his NHL career on that Oshie tally.
The Caps earned a 2-1 win over the Senators on Jan. 1 in the first of the three meetings between the two teams in 2016-17. Karl Alzner and Taylor Chorney supplied all of Washington's offense in that game, overcoming an earlier Kyle Turris strike, the only goal the Senators have mustered against the Capitals thus far this season.
Washington is nearing the end of a rugged stretch of schedule in which it plays 17 games in 31 nights. The Caps have posted a rather remarkable 12-1-2 record through the first 15 games of that run, and they've outscored the opposition by a combined 68-31 over that stretch. Washington's combined even-strength advantage over its opponents over its last 15 games is 58-23.
Ottawa is holding onto second place in the NHL's Atlantic Division, eight points south of front-running Montreal, but the Sens also hold three games in hand on the Habs.
The Senators' two losses to the Capitals earlier this month were wrapped around Ottawa's bye week, and those defeats were part of a four-game slide (0-3-1) the Sens suffered through as the calendar turned to 2017. Since then, Ottawa has been on a strong run, earning at least a point in six of its last seven games (5-1-1).
Senators goaltender Craig Anderson is on a leave of absence from the team as he helps his wife battle cancer, but Ottawa has gotten some solid work from Mike Condon while Anderson has been away. Condon was waived by Montreal and claimed by Pittsburgh early in the season, then was obtained from the Pens for a fifth-round draft choice.
Condon has been a key to the Sens' success this season, appearing in each of Ottawa's last 22 games. The 26-year-old Massachusetts native has earned 13 of Ottawa's 25 wins this season, and he is 5-3-1 with a 2.66 GAA and a .911 save pct. since the calendar flipped to 2017. Two of his three losses over that span came against Washington.
The Senators finish off a three-game homestand on Thursday when they host the Calgary Flames. Ottawa will then embark upon a three-game road trip in the immediate aftermath of the league's all-star break.