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Preview: Capitals at Senators

Washington going for fifth straight win; Ottawa looking to avoid fourth consecutive loss

by Chris Stevenson / Correspondent

CAPITALS (24-9-5) at SENATORS (20-13-4)

7 p.m. ET; CITY, TVA Sports 2, CSN-DC, NHL.TV


Capitals team scope

The Washington Capitals have won four consecutive games and are 11-2-2 in their past 15. They are coming off a 5-0 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday that ended the Blue Jackets' 16-game winning streak. "I think the response was high when we lost two games in a row (4-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs Nov. 26 and 3-0 to the New York Islanders on Dec. 1)," captain Alex Ovechkin said. "The penalty-kill guys did a great job because the last couple of games we have too [many] penalties. They give us momentum big time." The Capitals rank third in the NHL in penalty killing (86.9 percent) and are sixth on the road (86.4 percent). Ovechkin needs four points for 1,000 in his NHL career and one goal to tie Maurice Richard (544 goals) for 29th on the League's all-time list. Center Nicklas Backstrom needs one assist for 500. Goaltender Braden Holtby will start. He is 7-2-2 with 20 goals-against in his past 12 games.


Senators team scope

The Ottawa Senators are coming off a six-day break and have lost three straight games (0-2-1), the last a 2-1 loss to the Capitals last Sunday. "Breaks are never for short term. Breaks are usually for long-term good," coach Guy Boucher said. "I'm sure that's going to help. In the short term we know we have to get our timing back and our game shape and our game timing, urgency and battle level. That's what we're going to try and do. As the first period and second period are going on, we should look better and better." Forward Zack Smith will return to the lineup after missing two games with an upper-body injury. Goaltender Mike Condon will make his sixth straight start, 15th straight appearance. The Senators are 11-5-4 at home.


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Justin Williams  

Brett Connolly -- Lars Eller -- Andre Burakovsky

Daniel Winnik -- Jay Beagle -- Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik -- Nate Schmidt  

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Taylor Chorney, Liam O'Brien

Injured: none


Senators projected lineup 

Zack Smith -- Derick Brassard -- Mark Stone

Ryan Dzingel -- Kyle Turris -- Bobby Ryan

Mike Hoffman -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau -- Tom Pyatt

Chris Kelly -- Curtis Lazar -- Chris Neil

Marc Methot -- Erik Karlsson 

Dion Phaneuf -- Cody Ceci 

Mark Borowiecki -- Chris Wideman

Mike Condon

Matt O'Connor

Scratched: Fredrik Claesson

Injured: Andrew Hammond (ankle), Clarke MacArthur (concussion) 

Personal leave: Craig Anderson


Status report

Washington recalled O'Brien from Hershey of the American Hockey League on Friday. "He deserved to come up," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "He's been playing very well for probably the last eight weeks. He's been a difference-maker in Hershey and you try to reward someone who's done very, very well. It's just on merit." Some of the Capitals are fighting illnesses, so there's a small chance O'Brien could play. … The Senators are not expecting Anderson or MacArthur to be available until at least the end of the month, according to Boucher.


Who's hot

Ovechkin has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his past seven games. … Williams has seven points (three goals, four assists) in a four-game point streak. … Kuznetsov has six points (one goal, five assists) in his past two games. … Carlson has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past two games. … Hoffman has four points (one goal, three assists) in his past four games.

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