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Capitals hope to keep momentum going vs. Senators

by Adam Kimelman /

CAPITALS (1-3-1) AT SENATORS (3-1-0)


Season series: This is the first of three meetings between the teams this season. Washington won three of four games last season.

Big Story: The Capitals will look to build off their first win of the season Sunday, while the Senators are out to snap a two-game winless streak.

Team Scope:

Capitals: The Washington Capitals appear to be sticking with their unorthodox top line of star forward Alex Ovechkin skating with Joey Crabb and Jay Beagle. The trio likely will play their third straight game together Tuesday.

Oates switched Ovechkin to a line with Nicklas Backstrom and Troy Brouwer for parts of Sunday's game against the Buffalo Sabres, but went back to Ovechkin with Crabb and Beagle late in the game and it worked out, as Oates said he liked how Crabb and Beagle's tenacity on the forecheck brought out more aggression in Ovechkin.

"I guess I'm still learning. I like having north-south guys with him," Oates told the Washington Post. "Maybe sometimes with the other guys they might try and get too creative. And at the time when I did it [against Buffalo], we needed creativity. We needed something. We needed a spark. We need a goal, as opposed to just maybe being more relentless as a team going north. And I think playing with Joey and Beags, they're going to go north more."

Senators: Ottawa on Monday called up 2011 top pick Mika Zibanejad and had him on the ice for practice, and he could be in the lineup for Tuesday's game. Forward Jason Spezza skipped practice Monday and will not play Tuesday due to an upper-body injury. Forward Zack Smith also missed practice Monday, as did team captain Daniel Alfredsson, who has the flu. 

Zibanejad has four goals and seven assists in 23 games with the Binghamton Senators, Ottawa's American Hockey League team. He had one assist in nine NHL games last season.

Coach Paul MacLean said he wasn't sure about his lineup for Tuesday, but said he could envision Zibanejad finding his way into the game.

"We have an opportunity to bring him in," MacLean told the Ottawa Sun. "He's played very well down there since he got healthy and we want to take the opportunity to take a look at him. We'll decide if we want to play him in a game. If we want to play him [Tuesday], we can play him Tuesday."

Who's hot: Senators goalie Craig Anderson has allowed three goals in four games, and leads the NHL with a 0.73 goals-against average and .973 save percentage.

Injury Report: The Capitals are missing forward Brooks Laich (groin) and defenseman Jack Hillen (upper-body injury). … In addition to Spezza, Smith and Alfredsson, Ottawa defenseman Mike Lundin has a broken finger.

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