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Caps gun for No. 15 against Habs

by Adam Kimelman
CAPITALS (41-12-6) at CANADIENS (28-26-6)

Last 10: Washington 10-0-0; Montreal 5-3-2.

Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams this season. Washington has won the last two meetings, most recently Jan. 5, 4-2 in Washington, led by 2 goals from Alexander Semin.

Big Story: How much longer can the Capitals keep rolling? Their 14-game win streak is the longest in the League since the Pittsburgh Penguins set the NHL record of 17 straight in 1992-93.

While the Caps are flying, the Canadiens are just getting ready to take flight again in the wake of Bob Gainey stepping down as general manager Monday. What will new be new GM Pierre Gauthier's first move?

Team Scope:

Capitals: Just because the Capitals have won 14 straight games doesn't mean coach Bruce Boudreau is happy. Far from it, in fact.

"We want to get better all the time," he told reporters after Tuesday's practice. "Until you're perfect you've got stuff to work on and we're far from perfect. We've had to come from behind in an awful lot of games lately. Means we're not either getting off on the right track or taking it too easy or we're making to many mistakes. We have to get better in a lot of ways right now."

Canadiens: Listening to Pierre Gauthier's first press conference as the new Montreal GM, it doesn't sound like there will be too many changes. He'd rather let the new parts that former GM Bob Gainey imported over the summer continue to gel.

"We have 11 new players from nine different organizations, and I think we only have four players who have been with us for two or more seasons," Gauthier said. "Getting the team to where we want it to be is part of an ongoing process."

Who's Hot: Caps captain Alex Ovechkin is having another ho-hum run -- goals in five straight games, points in seven in a row. In his last 10 games, he has 12 goals and 21 points.

In his last 12 games, Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec has 5 goals and 12 points.

Injury Report: With Semyon Varlamov being activated off injured reserve, the Capitals took all three goalies with them on a road trip that starts Wednesday in Montreal and continues through Ottawa and St. Louis going into the Olympic break. Boudreau did not say when Varlamov would play; he's been out since Dec. 7.

The Canadiens lost defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron for 6-8 weeks with a knee injury. The club also placed forward Benoit Pouliot on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

Stat Pack: Ovechkin's hat trick Sunday against the Penguins was the first by a Washington player this season. They have League-highs of four players with at least 20 goals, and nine with at least 10.

Puck Drop: The Capitals were part of the thousands of people in the D.C. area left to dig out of more than 2 1/2 feet of snow that fell on the area last weekend, but they'll be getting out of town ahead of the next monster storm expected to hit early Wednesday morning, with another foot of snow expected.

"If we were playing games I'd rather stay here," said Boudreau. "We have to play three games, I'd rather play them at home. Quite frankly we'd all rather be here to make sure the families are OK, but it's our job so we have to go."

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