Alexander Ovechkin could use some scoring help if the Washington Capitals are going to avoid being shut out for the third time in four games.
They'll likely get a chance to do that against Pascal Leclaire, the NHL's shutout leader, on Tuesday night in their first road meeting against the Columbus Blue Jackets in more than four years.
The Capitals (24-24-5), who are tied with Florida for third place in the Southeast Division, are coming off a 2-0 loss to Atlanta on Saturday despite outshooting the Thrashers 36-13. The defeat followed a split of a home-and-home set with Montreal, which included a 5-4 home win on Thursday and a 4-0 road loss last Tuesday.
Ovechkin accounted for all of Washington's goals on Thursday, scoring four and assisting on the other. However, he could not find the net on seven shots against the Thrashers. The All-Star left wing leads the league with 43 goals and 70 points, but the Caps' second-best goal scorer is defenseman Mike Green, who has a career-high 14.
"We have to get a work-ethic goal. Somebody's got to go to the net and maybe take one in the ankle or something to get those goals," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "In the last five or six games we haven't had guys doing that. It's like they're sitting back and going, 'Alex, you score a couple goals and we'll win the game.' That's not how you win a division, make the playoffs or win consistently."
|Alexander Ovechkin, who had four goals and an assist on Thursday, scored two goals the last time his Capitals faced the Blue Jackets on Nov. 29, 2003. Washington is trying to avoid being shut out for the third time in four games. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Ovechkin netted a pair of goals in Washington's last meeting with Columbus (25-23-6), a 3-2 win on Oct. 5, 2005. He wasn't even in the league the last time the Capitals visited Nationwide Arena for a 5-3 win on Nov. 29, 2003.
The Caps are unbeaten in the last six meetings with the Blue Jackets, winning five and tying the other since losing the first-ever matchup at Columbus on Oct. 27, 2000.
They'll likely have to contend with Leclaire, who has a league-high eight shutouts and is among the leaders with a 2.11 goals-against average.
The goaltender, though, has been shaky in two starts since the All-Star break, losing both games with a 4.25 GAA. In his last contest on Thursday, he was pulled after two periods, giving up four goals on 23 shots in a 4-2 loss at Nashville.
Columbus didn't do much better with backup Fredrik Norrena in goal on Saturday, when he made 12 saves in a 4-1 loss to Minnesota for the team's third consecutive defeat. The Jackets had a season-high four-game losing streak (0-3-1) from Nov. 7-12.
"The three games we've lost, we deserved to lose," Jackets center Dan Fritsche said. "The competitive attitude hasn't been there."
The Blue Jackets, who are third in the Central Division, have been held to two goals or less in six of their last seven games for a 2-5-0 mark.
Columbus could use Rick Nash snapping out of his recent funk. The All-Star left wing, who leads the team with 26 goals and is second with 43 points, hasn't recorded a point in four games.