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Senators-Capitals Preview @NHLdotcom
Senators-Capitals Preview

GAME: Ottawa Senators (27-7-3) at Washington Capitals (13-21-3).

TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EST.

Rebounding from their worst loss of the season, may not be easy for the injury-plagued Ottawa Senators when they face the Washington Capitals.

Ottawa's four-game winning streak was snapped in decisive fashion with an 8-3 loss Monday to the Atlanta Thrashers. The eight goals were the most allowed in one game by the Senators since an 8-5 setback on Nov. 7, 1998 to the Capitals.

"After 82 games, you can get all excited about a loss occasionally. Certainly last night is an occasion where you could get upset," Senators coach Bryan Murray said Tuesday. "The best thing for me to do is to let it go for a day. (We have to) be logical about what we want to do - not be all emotional and all upset. I think there's a time when you do that."

Emotions ran high during the game, Dany Heatley's first against his former team since requesting a trade to escape reminders of the 2003 car wreck in Atlanta that killed Thrashers teammate Dan Snyder.

Heatley was booed each time he touched the puck, but scored his team-high 26th goal of the season.

Injuries to two of Ottawa's top three scorers and goaltender Dominik Hasek continue to hinder the Senators. Captain Daniel Alfredsson, who has 55 points on the season, remains sidelined after cracking a rib when he was hit by teammate Zdeno Chara's slap shot in a 4-1 win Thursday over the New York Islanders.

Jason Spezza, who has a team-high 35 assists this season, returned to the lineup and notched an assist against the Thrashers after missing five games with a pulled chest muscle.

He said Tuesday that he is experiencing discomfort and may not play against the Caps.

Hasek did not play Monday after hurting his back in warmups but may play in this contest.

Ottawa is 4-0-2 in its last six trips to Washington.

The Capitals also fell to the Thrashers in their last game, a 5-2 defeat Sunday. Washington was outshot 43-21 in its third loss in four games.

"There's really no excuse for it," forward Matt Bradley said. "It's not like we're tired. We had a good rest after the game."

Rookie Alexander Ovechkin recorded a goal and an assist in the loss, stretching his scoring streak to six games, the longest for a Capital since Andrew Brunette also scored in six straight from Dec. 29, 1997-Jan. 9, 1998.

Ovechkin, headed to the Turin Olympics to play for Russia, was named NHL Rookie of the Month for December after notching eight goals and 11 assists in 12 games.

STANDINGS (through Jan. 3): Senators - 57 points, 1st place, Northeast Division. Capitals - 29 points, 5th place, 23 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Senators - Heatley, 26 goals; Spezza, 35 assists; Heatley and Alfredsson, 55 points; Chara, 92 PIM. Capitals - Ovechkin, 24 goals, 22 assists and 46 points; Brendan Witt, 103 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 3): Senators - Power play: 22.9 percent (54 for 236), 2nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 85 percent (209 for 246), tied for 4th. Capitals - Power play: 13.6 percent (30 for 221), 28th. Penalty killing: 77.6 percent (211 for 272), 30th.

GOALTENDERS: Senators - Hasek (19-5-2, 3 SO, 2.10 GAA); Ray Emery (8-2-1, 1, 2.78). Capitals - Olaf Kolzig (11-15-3, 3.48); Brent Johnson (2-5-0, 4.91).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Senators, 3-0-1.

LAST MEETING: March 8, 2004; Senators, 4-1. At Washington, four players scored one goal each and Alfredsson and Marian Hossa each had two assists for the Senators.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Senators - 11-4-3 on the road; Capitals - 9-9-2 at home.

Associated Press
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