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GAME: Washington Capitals (9-17-2) at Los Angeles Kings (18-12-1).

TIME: Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. EST.

Though he seldom faces them over the course of a season, Kings center Pavol Demitra always seems to enjoy playing the Capitals.

Demitra will try to keep a pair of long scoring streaks alive as Los Angeles meets Washington at Staples Center.

Demitra, who joined the Kings after eight seasons with the St. Louis Blues, has a five-game goals streak and eight-game points streak against Washington.

He has posted six goals and five assists against the Capitals since Nov. 28, 1998.

Los Angeles has won three in a row from the Capitals and is 7-2-1 against them since April 4, 1998.

Demitra helped the Kings defeat the Florida Panthers 3-1 on Saturday for their first win three tries against the East this season. Demitra scored a power-play goal and added a short-handed tally as Los Angeles won for just the third time in nine games.

The success on the power play was a welcome sight for the Kings, who are just 4-for-59 on the power play over their past nine games.

Los Angeles had been held to two goals or less in its previous six games, going 1-5 in that span. The Kings are 16-4 when they score three or more.

"We played great for 60 minutes, which is what we have to do every night," Demitra said. "Every game is huge for us and we need every single point we can get because everyone's so close."

Rookie standout Alexander Ovechkin will try to extend his latest points streak for the Capitals.

Ovechkin, the top overall pick in the 2004 draft, has three goals and four assists during a three-game points streak. He started his rookie season with an eight-game points streak and added a four-game run from Nov. 22-27.

While he has averaged a point per game on the road, the Capitals have struggled, losing three in a row and 10 of 13 away from the MCI Center.

Washington is coming off a 4-3 home loss Friday to the Detroit Red Wings. Ovechkin had a goal and an assist, but the Caps' defense yielded three power-play goals.

Still, Washington coach Glen Hanlon wasn't upset at his team.

"We played great from start to finish," Hanlon said. "Detroit is a great hockey team. I don't think you come in and expect to dominate the Red Wings. ... These guys are great. They make me smile, even in defeat. I can hardly wait until we start winning these games."

STANDINGS (through Dec. 13): Capitals - 20 points, 5th place, 20 PB, Southeast Division. Kings - 37 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Capitals - Ovechkin, 18 goals and 32 points; Jeff Halpern, 16 assists; Brendan Witt, 74 PIM. Kings - Demitra, 16 goals, 22 assists and 38 points; Sean Avery, 108 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 13): Capitals - Power play: 12.2 percent (20 for 163), 29th in NHL. Penalty killing: 77.7 percent (157 for 202), tied for 29th. Kings - Power play: 14.4 percent (29 for 201), 28th. Penalty killing: 82.7 percent (153 for 185), tied for 14th.

GOALTENDERS: Capitals - Olaf Kolzig (8-11-2, 0 SO, 3.41 GAA); Brent Johnson (1-5-0, 0, 4.99). Kings - Mathieu Garon (10-7-0, 0, 2.76); Jason LaBarbera (8-5-1, 0, 2.89).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Kings, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 6, 2003; Kings, 7-3. At Los Angeles, Zigmund Palffy and Michael Cammalleri each scored two goals as Los Angeles won its third straight over Washington.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Capitals - 2-10-1 on the road; Kings - 11-5-0 at home.

Associated Press
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