shavings sens

Johnny B. Goode – Prior to tonight’s game against the Ottawa Senators, the Caps will honor defenseman John Carlson, who skated in the 1,000th game of his NHL career a week ago yesterday, on March 30 against the Boston Bruins.

With 149 career goals, Carlson is tied with Kevin Hatcher for the top spot on Washington’s all-time ledger of goals by defensemen; Carlson already holds the franchise marks for games played (1,003), assists (521), points (670), game-winning goals (30), power-play points (249) among Washington defensemen.

Carlson and longtime teammates Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom are just the third set of three teammates to play their first 1,000 games in the NHL with the same team, joining the Los Angeles trio of Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar and the Pittsburgh threesome of Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin.

Atlantic Avenue – In light of their current five-game slide (0-4-1), it’s rather remarkable that the Caps still maintain control of their postseason destiny with six games remaining. If they win out, they’ll be in the playoffs, regardless of what the other clubs do between now and season’s end.

However, the Caps’ schedule down the stretch has been heavily laden with Atlantic Division opponents, and that continues to be the case on the road ahead. Beginning with tonight’s game against Ottawa, the Caps will play each of their next five games against Atlantic Division foes.

Thus far this season, the Caps have won only six of 19 games (6-8-5) against Atlantic opposition.

Red Light Special – One major element lacking from Washington’s overall game over the course of its current five-game slide is the offensive wherewithal the team displayed over the previous several weeks. If the Caps are to shake the shackles of this losing streak and push their way into the playoffs over the next 10 days, they’ll need to find the offensive cohesion and connection that characterized their play from mid-February through late March.

“Forecheck,” is the one-word answer offered by Caps’ coach Spencer Carbery, when asked how the Caps can generate more 5-on-5 offense over the final half dozen games of the season. “We need to find a way to create more turnovers off the forecheck. We need to find a way to do a better job off of entries with our next play. At this time of year, you can count on one hand the number of odd man rushes that you’re going to get. Most teams have good structure; they’re coming back, they’ve got numbers.

“But what we need to do is, you’re going to get a bunch of entries tonight where they’ve got numbers back. How do we find where our next option is, so that we can keep a play alive, as opposed to turning it over, and forcing a play that turns in transition? That’s what I felt like [Friday] night with Carolina. You give them a lot of credit for their forecheck pressure and all of that stuff, but you’ve got to help yourself – to be able to have an [offensive] zone shift, have a puck possession shift – by what we do with the puck in the offensive zone off an entry, or off the forecheck.

“And if constantly that puck is transitioning the other way, it’s going to be a long night. So I don’t care what you plan to do with the puck – shooting it, [putting it] wide left, whatever – if you’re constantly giving the opposition the puck back, and they’re transitioning the other way, you’re not going to create much. That’s where I think we can do a way better job of keeping pucks alive in the offensive zone off the forecheck, off entries.”

Washington has managed just eight goals in its last five games, with only five of those goals being scored at even strength. Over the last two games, Ovechkin has scored all three Washington goals, netting one of them on the power play. Regardless of where the scoring comes from, the Caps simply need more blinking red lights.

“Coming home for a big game, we’ve got to come out with a lot of energy, and a high rate of execution,” says Caps’ right wing Tom Wilson. “We’ve got to simplify our game a little bit. Obviously, [Friday’s loss to] Carolina was a tough one, but at times throughout the Pittsburgh game [on Thursday] I thought we were playing really well.

“It’s about staying consistent, understanding what part of the game we’re in and the way we need to get pucks in and make plays, and just executing at a higher rate, tonight at home with an energetic building will be big.”

Century City – Congrats to Caps’ winger Beck Malenstyn, who will skate in the 100th game of his NHL career tonight against Ottawa. Malenstyn, the Caps’ fifth-round choice (145th overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft, made his NHL debut on Nov. 20, 2019 – ironically, on the 10-year anniversary of Carlson’s NHL debut – against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Injuries kept him from establishing himself as a bona fide NHL regular until this season, but he has proved his mettle in 2023-24, missing only one game all season – and that, for the birth of his first child – while leading the Caps with 216 hits and leading all Washington forwards with 89 blocked shots and an average of 2:43 per game in shorthanded ice time.

Malenstyn has also chipped in offensively with six goals and 20 points from his fourth line left wing lineup slot.

In The Nets – After Darcy Kuemper delivered a strong 42-save performance in Friday’s 4-2 loss to the Hurricanes in Carolina, Charlie Lindgren is back in net tonight for Washington. Lindgren has appeared in 20 of the Caps’ last 23 games, starting 19 of them.

Lindgren will be making his first career appearance against the Senators tonight. Along with Washington, Ottawa is one of only two teams Lindgren has yet to face over the course of his NHL career.

Anton Forsberg started Saturday’s home game against New Jersey, but Joonas Korpisalo came on in relief in the first period, so the Sens needed both goalies in the front end of their set of back-to-backs. Korpisalo has seen most of the minutes in net for the Senators this season, so we are expecting him to get the nod tonight as well.

Although he has dropped three straight decisions coming into tonight’s game, Korpisalo reeled off four straight victories prior to that. Lifetime against Washington, he is 3-2-2 with a shutout, a 2.44 GAA and a .919 save pct. in nine appearances (seven starts).

All Lined Up – Here’s how the Caps and Sens looked the last time they suited up for a game:



8-Ovechkin, 17-Strome, 43-Wilson

23-Sgarbossa, 24-McMichael, 21-Protas

67-Pacioretty, 29-Lapierre, 15-Milano

47-Malenstyn, 26-Dowd, 63-Miroshnichenko


42-Fehervary, 74-Carlson

38-Sandin, 3-Jensen

27-Alexeyev, 57-van Riemsdyk





19-Backstrom (lower body)

25-Bear (NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program)

77-Oshie (upper body)






7-Tkachuk, 71-Greig, 28-Giroux

81-Kubalik, 57-Pinto, 19-Batherson

14-Katchouk, 21-Joseph, 27-Kelly

13-Smejkal, 12-Kastelic, 20-Imama


85-Sanderson, 2-Zub

6-Chychrun, 24-Bernard-Docker

72-Chabot, 26-Brannstrom





9-Norris (shoulder)

15-Highmore (upper body)

17-MacEwen (lower body)

18-Stützle (upper body)

23-Hamonic (lower body)

59-Crookshank (lower body)