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Ovechkin in 'beast mode' as Capitals meet Canadiens

by Sean Farrell / NHL.com

CAPITALS (25-14-9) at CANADIENS (31-13-3)

TV: NHLN-US, SN, CSN-DC, RDS

MONTREAL -- Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin is on the verge of a tenth straight 30-goal season as he gets ready to face the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday.

Ovechkin has seven goals in his past five games, including his 28th and 29th in Washington's 4-0 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz has enjoyed working with Ovechkin in his first season behind the Washington bench.

"He's a rare athlete," Trotz said. "He's one of the best goal scorers in the National Hockey League in probably this last seven or eight years and he's probably the most physical superstar that you're going to find up front as well. I mean, I know Marshawn Lynch and the Super Bowl's happening, but he gets into that beast mode where he wants to run people over and be the alpha male out there.

"He's pretty special in those ways, but Alex has been a pleasure to coach, very easy to coach. He does what you ask him and very passionate, that's why I think people are drawn to Alex because he's exactly what you see. There's no blank canvas, he's got personality, he's got fire in his belly and he is who he is."

Ovechkin's first goal Wednesday was his 450th. He has 451 goals and 408 assists for 859 points in 727 games. The 29-year-old Russian left wing is also plus-12 this season.

"He's never going to win the Selke Trophy but I've asked him to have more detail in his game," Trotz said. "It's rare that you would find a guy that has the talent of Alex, the way he scores and what have you, to be the Selke Trophy winner. That just doesn't happen so I just wanted more balance in his game and he's bought in and he's got a good work ethic and he's been a really good leader. I think he's grown up and hopefully learning with our coaching staff, we've helped him lead better in areas and understand how critical it is in certain areas and he's done that. He's been very easy to coach."

The Canadiens extended their winning streak to four with a 1-0 win against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

Here are the projected lineups:

CAPITALS

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Jay Beagle

Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Troy Brouwer

Brooks Laich - Eric Fehr - Joel Ward

Jason Chimera - Michael Latta - Tom Wilson

Brooks Orpik - John Carlson

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Jack Hillen - Mike Green

Braden Holtby

Justin Peters

Scratched: Andre Burakovsky, Cameron Schilling

Injured: Dmitry Orlov (wrist), John Erskine (neck surgery), Aaron Volpatti (neck)

CANADIENS

Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - Dale Weise

Alex Galchenyuk - David Desharnais - Brendan Gallagher

Jiri Sekac - Lars Eller - Brandon Prust

Michael Bournival - Manny Malhotra - Christian Thomas

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Nathan Beaulieu - Sergei Gonchar

Alexei Emelin - Tom Gilbert

Carey Price

Dustin Tokarski

Scratched: Mike Weaver, Gabriel Dumont

Injured: Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau (concussion)

Status report: Parenteau has missed eight of the past 10 games and has not played since Jan. 15 in a 4-1 loss at the Ottawa Senators.

Who's hot: Ovechkin has eight points in his past five games. Backstrom has eight points (two goals, six assists) during a five-game points streak. Green has a goal and five assists in his past five games. ... Price is on a 9-1-1 run. He has allowed one goal or less in six of those games and more than two once in that stretch.

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