RED WINGS (4-2-2) at CAPITALS (4-2-2)
TV: NBCSN, TVA, SN1
ARLINGTON, Va. -- Scouring the game log of Alex Ovechkin's decade-long career, there have been few prolonged scoring droughts.
The Washington Capitals captain is without a goal or assist in his past four games, the fifth time in his 687-game career he has been held pointless for that long. If he fails to get one against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVA, SN1), it will be the longest slump of his career, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Ovechkin has seven shots over that span, the second time he has had two or fewer shots in each of four consecutive games, according to JapersRink.com. That is uncharacteristic of the 29-year-old, who has led the NHL in shots eight times and has a career average of 5.05 shots per game
"It's hard to say for myself, but I just play as I can, play hard," Ovechkin said. "If I didn't score goals, I try to do different stuff."
Even without offensive production, Ovechkin has still driven puck possession; his Corsi percentage over the past four games is 61.39, according to war-on-ice.com.
"We just have to work to get a chance to score goals," said Ovechkin, who will be separated from longstanding linemate Nicklas Backstrom to start the game Wednesday. "If we do the right things in the neutral zone, defensive zone, we're going to have opportunities to create chance in the offensive zone as well."
To that end, coach Barry Trotz, who has praised Ovechkin's commitment to rounding out his game throughout the season, has not seen the superstar pressing in search of goals.
"He's playing the right way," Trotz said. "You see him blocking shots, defensively he's way better in his commitment level there. On the forecheck, he's using the body, separating people.
"[Ovechkin] hasn't scored in the past four games, but he's had good looks. He's trying to be maybe a little too fine with his shot. That's a lot of our guys in the last couple games. They're down the pipe. Those will go in. We keep getting looks, they'll go in."
Trotz will face a familiar adversary in the Red Wings, a former Central Division rival during his 15 seasons with the Nashville Predators. Since Mike Babcock began coaching Detroit in 2005-06, Trotz has opposed him 54 times in the regular season.
"They've always had really good leadership," Trotz said of the Red Wings consistency. "They've had great ownership and a system in place. It's just the Detroit culture. They've always been patient with their young guys. … You want to create a culture. It takes time. It doesn't happen overnight. They've had 20-some years at it."
Here are the projected lineups:
Justin Abdelkader - Henrik Zetterberg – Gustav Nyquist
Darren Helm – Pavel Datsyuk – Tomas Tatar
Andrej Nestrasil – Riley Sheahan – Tomas Jurco
Drew Miller – Luke Glendening – Joakim Andersson
Niklas Kronwall – Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey – Danny DeKeyser
Brendan Smith – Jakub Kindl
Scratched: Daniel Cleary, Brian Lashoff
Injured: Johan Franzen (groin)
Alex Ovechkin – Andre Burakovsky – Joel Ward
Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Jay Beagle
Liam O'Brien – Michael Latta – Eric Fehr/Tom Wilson
Brooks Orpik – John Carlson
Karl Alzner – Matt Niskanen
Nate Schmidt – Mike Green
Scratched: Eric Fehr/Tom Wilson, Jack Hillen
Injured: Brooks Laich (upper body), Aaron Volpatti (upper body), Dmitry Orlov (wrist), John Erskine (neck surgery)
Status report: Wilson, who hasn't played this season while recovering from offseason ankle surgery, is a game-time decision. If Wilson plays, then Fehr will be scratched, according to Trotz. "Need a little more from him," Trotz said of Fehr. "He's not that far off, but I know he can be better for us."… Laich will miss his fourth straight game with an upper-body injury.
Who's hot: Of Zetterberg's team-leading 10 points, nine have come within the past five games. … Green's seven even-strength points lead all NHL defensemen.