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Capitals look to end losing skid against Senators

by Jon Lane

SENATORS (9-11-4) at CAPITALS (12-10-2)


Last 10: Ottawa 5-5-0; Washington 5-3-2

Season series: The Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals play the first of three games. In the last meeting, Sergei Gonchar's power-play goal 47 seconds into overtime gave the Senators a 2-1 win against the Capitals at Verizon Center on April 25.

Big story: The Senators, who reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season, are currently on the outside looking in at the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Although the Capitals are two points out of first place in the Metropolitan Division, they have four other teams nipping at their heels following a 2-1 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Team Scope:

Senators: Ottawa was victimized by Cam Ward's 35 saves on Sunday. Strangely, the Senators are 6-0-1 within the Atlantic Division, but 2-4-2 against teams from the weaker Metropolitan Division. Captain Jason Spezza opened the scoring for Ottawa 67 seconds into the game against Carolina. But the Hurricanes scored three straight second-period goals in less than six minutes before Eric Staal's empty-netter closed out a 4-1 victory.

"We play good games," Spezza said. "We play bad games and we don't play enough good games in a row. We tend to play too many bad games."

Capitals: Washington dropped its third straight game Saturday despite 50 shots on goal against Toronto goalie James Reimer. It was the first time the Capitals had 50 shots in a game since firing 52 against the Dallas Stars on March 18, 2010. Washington trailed 1-0 captain Alex Ovechkin tied the game with 4:10 remaining in regulation, becoming the first player in the League this season to reach the 20-goal mark. But Joffrey Lupul scored the game-winning goal in the shootout.

"We get lots of chances, [the] power play had lots of good opportunities to score," Ovechkin said. "Five-on-five, especially in the third period, I don't think they had any chances out there. Reimer made good saves, kept them in the game, but you can see if we get the chance to shoot the puck we don't have [anybody] in front of the net."

Who's hot: After failing to score in October, Senators forward Clarke MacArthur has six goals in 12 games this month and is plus-10 with 17 points in 23 games. Bobby Ryan's 11 goals match his total of last season. Defenseman Erik Karlsson, who won the Norris Trophy in 2011-12, has points in all but three games in November … Ovechkin has 43 goals in his past 45 games dating back to the second half of last season. Eleven of Nicklas Backstrom's team-high 19 assists have come on Ovechkin goals; he has 24 points in 24 games. Braden Holtby is 3-1-1 with a 2.31 goals-against average and .933 save percentage in his past five games.

Injury report: Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki (strained neck) moved well during practice Tuesday and appears ready to go … Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth (lower body) left practice early Monday and is questionable for Wednesday. Jack Hillen (right tibia surgery) and John Erskine (upper body) are on injured reserve.

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