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Caps face Devils trying to rediscover winning ways

by Dan Rosen
CAPITALS (9-4-0) at DEVILS (7-5-1)


Last 10:
Washington 6-4-0; New Jersey 5-4-1

Season series:
This is the first of four meetings between the Caps and Devils this season.

Big Story: The Capitals are coming off a dreadful 5-2 loss to Dallas that prompted coach Bruce Boudreau to put his squad through a two-hour practice Wednesday that included a bag skate. The Devils, meanwhile, have won three in a row, all by one goal but just once in regulation.

Team Scope:

Washington has lost back-to-back games and has really played four straight bad periods in which it has been outscored by an 8-3 margin by the Islanders and Stars. The Capitals paid the price in Wednesday's practice.

"I think we play great against Carolina (5-1 win) and against New York Islanders we stop playing after first period and right now you can see how we play against Dallas," captain Alex Ovechkin said according to the Washington Post. "We can't be continue like this."

There could be one significant lineup change Friday, with Mike Green potentially getting back in for the first time since injuring his right ankle six games ago. Green participated in the full practice Wednesday and was again on the ice Thursday skating with his normal defense partner, Roman Hamrlik.

"Finally, I think I'm getting close," Green told the Washington Post. "We'll see what the docs say today and tomorrow and we'll go from there."

At the same time Washington was sleep-walking through a loss to Dallas, the Devils were finishing off a strong 3-2 win over the Hurricanes. Rookie center Adam Henrique scored the winner with 3:19 left in regulation against the Hurricanes. It was Henrique's second straight game-winning goal and his fourth goal in the last three games.

The Devils have won their last two games without Ilya Kovalchuk, who pulled a leg muscle in last week's 4-3 shootout win in Philadelphia. He did not practice Thursday, but he has not been ruled out for Friday's game. Instead, Kovalchuk's status will be re-evaluated in the morning, when it is possible that he skates with the rest of the team at Prudential Center.

"Unlike a broken bone where there's a definite timeline on it, it really is we show up, see how it feels and make a decision," coach Pete DeBoer said Thursday according to The (Bergen) Record. "He's feeling good about it, but we're going to retain the right to daily make a decision on him. So, that doesn't mean he won't play and doesn't mean he will."

Who's Hot:
Caps center Nicklas Backstrom brings a five-game point-scoring streak into Friday's game. He has 9 points on 3 goals and 6 assists during the streak. … Henrique has 4 goals and 2 assists over the last four games. Patrik Elias also has a five-game points streak in which he has 2 goals and 4 assists.

Injury Report: Green (ankle) could play Friday. Jay Beagle (concussion) has been out of the lineup since Oct. 13. … Kovalchuk (leg muscle pull) will be evaluated Friday morning, but could miss his third straight game. Eric Boulton (fractured right hand) did not practice Thursday after participating in Wednesday's practice.

Stat Pack:
Henrique on Tuesday became the first Devils rookie to be credited with a game-winning goal in back-to-back games since Elias in 1997. It was almost 14 years to the day. Elias did it Nov. 8 and 10 while Henrique did it Nov. 5 and 8. … Backstrom has been held without a point in only two of the Capitals 13 games this season. He has eight multi-point games.

Puck Drop: "We all understand what we have to do," Ovechkin said according to the Washington Post. "Bruce tell us what we have to do, we just have to do it if we want to have success."

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