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Ovechkin ties Selanne, Samsonov wins seventh straight, Caps blueline contributing at highest offensive rate in more than a quarter century, more

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps /

Six-Pack Attack - On any given night, any one of the NHL's Original 31 is capable of beating any of its other member clubs. Top teams in the league will be toppled by the bottom feeders from time to time, and the good teams can't be caught looking past the lesser ones.

So it was for front-running Washington on Tuesday night, hosting the Ottawa Senators and trying not to peek past that assignment to a Wednesday night date in Philadelphia, the first of five straight Metro Division match-ups right around the corner. The Caps went to work and dispatched the Sens, 6-1.

"We didn't play great in the first, but we didn't play bad either," says Lars Eller, who scored for the third straight game on Tuesday. "We were playing okay. I think we just had confidence and staying within our game, that if we would stick to the game plan we were going to get the breaks sooner or later. It's just no panic, just keep playing our game shift by shift, and sooner or later we were going to get the get the looks, and we did. I don't think you can take these games for granted - to get the two points - but we handled it really well today."

Video: Postgame | January 7

Ottawa scored first and took a 1-0 lead to the second, but the Caps responded with three in the second and three in the third to win going away. T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin scored twice each, and Ilya Samsonov made 26 saves to earn his seventh straight win, improving to 12-2-1 on the season.

The Caps forged their league-best 30-9-5 record largely by taking down a series of upper echelon opponents early in the season, and they earned many of those wins on the road. But Washington has also made sure that it wins the games it is "supposed" to win; the Caps are now 8-0-0 against the bottom six teams in the league, from the perspective of points percentage.

Tied With Teemu - Ovechkin's two goals improved his career total to 684, tying him with Teemu Selanne for 11th place on the NHL's all-time list. The Caps' captain has 26 goals on the season.

"He's had a number of chances recently and they made some good saves on him, and he's just missed on some others," says Caps coach Todd Reirden. "So it was good to see him get rewarded obviously tonight."

Ovechkin's first goal came late in the second, and it was scored seconds after he narrowly missed lighting the lamp, only to have an Ottawa defender sweep his shot away at the last possible split second before it wobbled over the goal line.

"The one is on the goal line and [it's swept away]," notes Reirden, "and then he turns around and obviously scores a very Alex Ovechkin-like goal, and then the second one as well so you know that are more trademark of his style.

"I'm happy for him obviously; it's amazing what we're seeing. We're fortunate - I say it all the time in DC here - to be able to watch a guy like this play for the Capitals is such a privilege for people around here. [He is] a legend in goal-scoring, and it's fun to watch him climb the ladder."

Video: Reirden Postgame | January 7

Wednesday's game was Ovechkin's sixth multi-goal effort of the season, and the 138th of his NHL career. He has recorded the most multi-goal games of any player with one franchise in league history, and he trails Marcel Dionne (139) by one for sixth place overall on the multi-goal games list.

Ovechkin scored once against Ottawa starter Craig Anderson, and he also scored against Sens goalie Marcus Hogberg for the first time. It's the ninth time in his career that Ovechkin has scored against two different netminders in the same game, and Hogberg becomes the 140th different goaltender he has victimized for those 684 career goals.

"There are some pretty good names up there," says Ovechkin as he approaches the all-time top 10. "But there is still a long way to go."

Seven Straight For Sammy - Samsonov won his seventh straight start, and he is now one shy of matching the Caps' franchise record for consecutive victories by a rookie netminder. Bob Mason reeled off eight consecutive victories for the 1984-85 Caps, and that record has held up for three and a half decades since.

Starting with his Nov. 30 victory over the Red Wings in Detroit, Samsonov is 7-0-0 with a 1.83 GAA and a .932 save pct. in his last eight appearances, which includes a relief effort.

Blueline Bonanza - Five of Washington's six defensemen found their way onto the scoresheet in Tuesday night's game. John Carlson had a pair of assists, Gudas scored his second goal of the season, and Dmitry Orlov, Jonas Siegenthaler and Michal Kempny each picked up assists.

On the season, Capitals blueliners have now combined for 23 goals and 92 assists for 115 points in 44 games, an average of 2.61 points per game. It's the largest offensive contribution from the Washington defense corps since the historic 1992-93 Caps blueline, which rolled up 94 goals and 264 points for an average of 3.14 points per game.

That '92-93 Caps team is the only club in NHL history to feature three defensemen with 20 or more goals: Kevin Hatcher (34), Al Iafrate (25) and Sylvain Cote (21).

Last season, Caps defensemen totaled 35-150-185 for an average of 2.26 points per game. That was the biggest offensive contribution by any Washington blueline brigade since the 1993-94 group posted 51-153-204 in 1993-94 for an average of 2.43 points per game.

The NHL's regular season was 84 games in duration in '92-93 and '93-94, while the season has been 82 games in length since, aside from the two lockout-abbreviated seasons of 1994-95 and 2012-13.

Down On The Farm - The ECHL South Carolina Stingrays whipped the Atlanta Gladiators by a 5-1 count on Tuesday night at North Charleston Coliseum.

After falling down 1-0 early, the Stingrays scored five unanswered goals from five different players: Jonathan Charbonneau, Mark Cooper, Andrew Cherniwchan, Brady Fleurent and Dylan Steman. That was more than enough offensive support for Logan Thompson (37 saves), who improved to 13-3-1-0 on the season.

The 25-4-3-1 Stingrays own the ECHL's best record, leading the South Division by six points over Florida, and owning two games in hand on the Everblades as well.

By The Numbers - Orlov led the Caps with 21:24 in ice time … Ovechkin led the Caps with six shots on net and eight shot attempts … Garnet Hathaway led Washington with eight hits … Kempny led the Caps with three blocked shots … Nicklas Backstrom extended his assist streak to six straight games (0-6-6).

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