Skip to main content

Capitals-Wild Preview

NHL.com @NHL

Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals haven't had any success on offense at Minnesota. These days, though, teams haven't needed much scoring to beat the Wild.

Hoping Ovechkin can find the back of the net, the Capitals look to beat the struggling Wild on the road for the first time in five games as the teams meet Monday night.

Southeast Division-leading Washington (11-6-3) has never won at the Xcel Energy Center, going 0-3-1 and scoring three goals in those games.

Ovechkin has only played in one of those contests, a 1-0 shootout loss on Oct. 12, 2006, and has not scored a goal in two games overall against the Wild (11-6-1). Minnesota is one of three teams the reigning Hart Trophy winner has yet to score against. Los Angeles and San Jose are the other two.

Minnesota has been stingy on defense this month, allowing 22 goals in 11 games. The Wild, though, have been held to 20 in that span, going 5-6-0.

But Washington, which is finishing off a five-game road swing, has scored a total of four goals en route to losing its last two contests. The Capitals had tallied 11 times in the first two games of the trip, going 1-0-1.

Sergei Fedorov returned to the Capitals' lineup after missing seven games with a sprained ankle and had a chance to give the offense a boost, but played just four minutes and did not get any ice time after the first period. His status for Monday's game is uncertain.

Defense, meanwhile, has been a problem for Washington for the whole trip.

Ovechkin extended his point streak to seven games (six goals, 10 assists) with an assist against San Jose Saturday night, but the Capitals lost 7-2, and have allowed 22 goals in their last four games.

"We've been getting away with two or three mistakes and not hurting us, and (Saturday) it hurt us," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I didn't think our best players were our best players."

Brent Johnson has been in net for three of those contests, including Saturday, and his goals-against average has ballooned from 2.10 to 2.79.

Washington may turn back to Jose Theodore, who has allowed nine goals in his last two games. He is 3-3-1 with one tie and a 2.10 GAA in eight games against Minnesota.

Whoever is in net for the Capitals has a chance to gain some confidence.

Minnesota went 0-for-5 on the power play in a 2-1 loss to St. Louis on Saturday night. The Wild are 0-for-10 with the man advantage in their last three games.

Stephane Veilleux scored for the Wild, tallying the first even-strength goal by a Minnesota forward other than Mikko Koivu since Andrew Brunette scored on Nov. 6 at Colorado.

"They are pressing, there's no doubt," Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. "Now they feel a little pressure because we didn't score goals 5-on-5. Now it seems our power play is suffering, too. You can't have both."

Minnesota is in desperate need for star winger Marian Gaborik to return from a lower body injury. He has missed 16 straight games.

"He's rehabbing and he won't come back until he is 100 percent," Wild assistant general manager Tom Lynn said.

View More