For the third time in a span of 24 days, the Caps will tangle with the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night. Washington edged the Sens 2-1 at Verizon Center on Jan. 1 and blanked Ottawa 1-0 at Canadian Tire Centre on Jan. 7. Having faced one another so frequently of late, both sides figure to know what's up on Tuesday.
Washington heads to New Jersey to face the Devils on Thursday, and that game will also mark the third time the Caps and Devils have faced off in less than 30 days.
"Ottawa has played us hard," says Caps defenseman Karl Alzner. "They're tough to play against and they've got a lot of good players on that team. It's nice that we got to see them a little bit and to see what their systems are. They've got some guys who are creative and they change it up.
"I know we got Jersey in a bit of low period, so I'm interested to see what they're up to now. [Devils forward Taylor] Hall is back in the lineup, so that's a different look for us.
Tuesday's game marks the finale of the season's series between the two teams, and the Caps are seeking a clean sweep of the Senators for the second time in as many seasons.
Foot On The Gas - Monday night's 6-1 win over Carolina came in the Caps' 15th game in the last 28 nights. Washington is nearing the end of a stretch in which it plays 17 games in 31 nights, and Tuesday's game in Ottawa and Thursday's in New Jersey are the last two games for the Capitals prior to the NHL's all-star break.
"It's working out good for us," says Alzner. "It's good timing. We need the break right now because guys are getting tired after 15 games in 28 days. It's coming at a good time."
With the luxury of a short break just ahead on the horizon, it can be easy to let up just a bit, so that's something the Capitals must guard against in these next two games.
"It's tough," says Alzner. "We've seen it happen with some of the teams that we've played. They've come in here or we've played them right before their break, and we haven't seen their full potential. I guess it's just [a matter of] continuing to ride the wave. We feel good playing our game right now.
"There is no point to taking your foot off the gas. It's much more fun going into a break winning games than losing them, or even just playing not good hockey. We're going to go out there and work hard; that's pretty much all you can do. Whether things go our way or not, you put out honest efforts and hard work and stick to what we've been building. We're happy with efforts like that."
First Things First - During the life of its 14-game point streak, the Caps also had a run of 10 straight games in which they scored the game's first goal, a streak that ended when Carolina got on the board first in Monday's 6-1 Washington win at Verizon Center.
Washington has scored first in 33 of 47 games overall this season, tops in the NHL (San Jose is second with 32). The Capitals are 26-3-4 this season when scoring first, and their .788 winning pct. in that situation is just a shade off the league lead. Nashville is tops in that department at .789 (15-0-4).
Over the course of their current 14-game point streak, the Caps have outscored their opposition by a combined total of 19-5 in the first period. Washington has been down after the game's first 20 minutes only eight times in 47 games this season, and the Caps are 5-3-0 in those contests.
Back-To-Backs - Washington finishes off its eighth set of back-to-back games on Tuesday night in Ottawa. The Caps are 7-0-1 in the first half of back-to-backs this season, and they've outscored the opposition by a combined total of 32-13 in those games.
The Capitals have suffered only nine regulation losses in 47 games this season, fewest in the NHL. But a third of those losses have come in the second half of back-to-back contests. The Caps are only 3-3-1 in the back end of back-to-backs, outscoring the opposition 23-22 in those games.
Washington has scored two or fewer goals in four of seven games on the back end of back-to-backs, and it has allowed four or more goals in three of those seven games.
In The Nets - With the Caps playing for the second time in as many nights, Philipp Grubauer gets the net for Washington. Grubauer is 9-1-2 on the season with two shutouts, a 2.05 GAA and a .925 save pct. He defeated Dallas 4-3 in his most recent start on Saturday night, tying a single-season career high for victories in the process.
Grubauer is 7-0-2 in his last nine games, with a 2.07 GAA and a .925 save pct. Lifetime against the Senators, he is 1-1-0 in two appearances, with a 1.51 GAA and a .957 save pct.
Ottawa is likely to go with Mike Condon on goal. Condon has appeared in 22 straight games for the Senators, and he is 13-7-4 on the season with three shutouts, a 2.48 GAA and a .914 save pct. Lifetime against the Caps, Condon is 1-4-0 with a 2.45 GAA and a .912 save pct.
All Lined Up - Without benefit of a morning skate before Tuesday's second game of a set of back-to-backs, we won't know for sure how the Capitals will look until pregame warm-ups. But here's how the Caps and Sens are likely to lineup for Tuesday's game at Canadian Tire Centre:
8-Ovechkin, 19-Backstrom, 77-Oshie
90-Johansson, 92-Kuznetsov, 14-Williams
10-Connolly, 20-Eller, 65-Burakovsky
26-Winnik, 83-Beagle, 43-Wilson
74-Carlson (lower body, day-to-day)
15-Smith, 19-Brassard, 61-Stone
18-Dzingel, 7-Turris, 9-Ryan
68-Hoffman, 44-Pageau, 10-Pyatt
22-Kelly, 27-Lazar, 25-Neil
41-Anderson (personal reasons)