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Ducks try to slow down rampaging Caps

by John Kreiser

DUCKS (24-22-7) at CAPITALS (34-12-6)

Last 10 -- Anaheim 7-3-0, Washington 9-1-0

Season series -- The teams are meeting for the only time this season. They haven't played each other since Nov. 19, 2008, when the Capitals won 6-4 at Anaheim. The Ducks haven't been to the VerizonCenter since Dec. 8, 2006, when they skated away with a 6-1 win.

Big story -- The Ducks, who lost 2-1 at Atlanta on Tuesday, get the next shot at slowing down the NHL's version of a runaway train. The Caps torched the York Islanders 7-2 on Long Island Tuesday night for their seventh win in a row. They've averaging five goals a game during that span -- and they lit the light seven times against the Islanders without getting a point from top gun Alex Ovechkin.

Team scope:

Ducks -- The Ducks are touring the Southeast this week as part of a six-game road trip that saw them lost in Atlanta on Tuesday despite a good effort by goaltender Jonas Hiller. The likely starter for Switzerland at next month's Winter Olympics made 32 saves against the Thrashers and has supplanted Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the Ducks' starter.

"He played well enough to keep us in the game," center Ryan Getzlaf said after the loss.

Capitals -- For the second game in a row, Ovechkin wasn't even the best Capital named Alexander. After a four-point night against Phoenix on Saturday, Alexander Semin scored a pair of unassisted goals against the Islanders. His first goal was a laser beam of a wrist shot; the second came on a nearly impossible move after he danced past defenseman Bruno Gervais.

"That goal he scored was pretty dynamic," coach Bruce Boudreau said of Semin's second tally. "There's not too many people that can do that. He's got so much skill."

Who's hot -- Anaheim's Bobby Ryan has 4 goals and 4 assists in eight games, Ryan Getzlaf has a goal and 3 assists in five games. … In the case of the Capitals, almost everyone is hot. But the hottest player is probably Semin, who has 13 points during a seven-game points streak. Ovechkin had a nine-game points streak before being blanked on Tuesday. Defenseman John Erskine scored Tuesday -- his first in 110 games.

Injury report -- Anaheim center Saku Koivu returned Tuesday after missing four games with a knee injury. Fellow Finnish Olympian Teemu Selanne (broken jaw) is still out, as is forward Joffrey Lupul (back surgery). … Caps goalie Semyon Varlamov is out with a groin injury, while defenseman Brian Pother (unspecified) is day-to-day. Despite the big lead, Theodore was lifted after two periods, and the Caps say he's say-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Stat pack -- Anaheim is 6-4-0 all-time in Washington -- and all 10 of the games have been decided in regulation. However, the Ducks are 3-8-0 in their last 11 road games. … Washington, which leads the NHL with 3.81 goals per game, has scored at least four in 10 of the past 11 games (10-1-0) -- a run that started the night Ovechkin was named captain after Chris Clark was traded. The Caps had an 0-for-13 run on the penalty kill ended on Tuesday.

Puck drop -- Boudreau knows his team is on a roll. He just hopes it continues.

"They are in a groove," he said after Tuesday's win. I think whether you're a first-place team or you're 30th, at some point of the season things just seem to be working or clicking. Right now, they're clicking for us. We score seven goals, and Ovi doesn't even get a point. It says you've got good balance on the team."

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