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Preview: Capitals at Coyotes

Washington can inch closer to division title; Arizona seeks to end four-game losing streak

by Jerry Brown / Correspondent

CAPITALS (51-17-8) AT COYOTES (27-41-9)

10 p.m. ET; FS-A, CSN-DC+, NHL.TV


Capitals team scope

The Washington Capitals look for their seventh straight win. They have a four-point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets for first place in the Metropolitan Division, Eastern Conference and NHL standings. "I wouldn't say our game has been totally complete," coach Barry Trotz said after the morning skate. "For the most part this group has stayed focused on being consistent and it has a willingness to keep learning rather than ignoring things that come up in our game. We're open-minded about getting things fixed. We're trying to finish first in the Metro and get any advantage possible, but and team you get in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] is going to be tough." Washington had two power-play goals in a 5-3 win at the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday and has scored 34 power-play goals in its past 37 games (34-for-110; 30.9 percent). The Capitals are 35-5-2 when they have scored at least once on the power play. Alex Ovechkin is tied with Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning for first in the League with 17 power-play goals and needs one point to pass Alexander Mogilny (1,032 points) for second place among Russian-born players behind Sergei Fedorov (1,179). Ovechkin has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 13 career games against the Coyotes and is two goals behind Guy Lafleur (560) for 25th on the NHL's all-time list. Braden Holtby, who did not play against Colorado, will make his ninth start in the past 10 games. He is 6-0-1 and has allowed 15 goals in his past seven starts.


Coyotes team scope

Captain Shane Doan will return after missing seven games because of a groin injury. "As a player, you have to trust the opinions of the coaches and trainers and I appreciate the way they looked after me," Doan said. "I'm excited about the opportunity to play again. Five games [remaining] makes it tough. You wish you had more. You wish you could start the whole thing over and have a re-do … but you can't so you work with five games." After playing in two games to begin his NHL career, rookie Clayton Keller will be a healthy scratch. Keller got his first point, an assist, in a 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday. Arizona has lost four straight games and is 1-6-1 in its past eight. The Coyotes have scored one goal or fewer in six of their past seven games (2.27 per game this season). Goalie Mike Smith left practice Thursday with an illness but will back up Louis Domingue, who will make his second straight start. Domingue has won four of his past five starts and made 40 saves against St. Louis. "We gave up quite a few chances and he was pretty solid," coach Dave Tippett said. "He needed a stretch like that just to give himself some confidence and finish the year off right."


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 -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Scratched: Paul Carey, Taylor Chorney, Nate Schmidt

Injured: None


Coyotes projected lineup

Brendan Perlini -- Christian Dvorak -- Radim Vrbata

Max Domi -- Alexander Burmistrov -- Anthony Duclair

Jordan Martinook -- Josh Jooris -- Tobias Rieder

Lawson Crouse -- Peter Holland -- Shane Doan

Oliver Ekman-Larsson -- Luke Schenn

Alex Goligoski -- Connor Murphy

Jakob Chychrun -- Anthony DeAngelo

Louis Domingue

Mike Smith

Scratched: Clayton Keller, Jamie McGinn, Zbynek Michalek, Teemu Pulkkinen

Injured: Kevin Connauton (upper body), Brad Richardson (leg)


Status report

Doan will play on the fourth line with Holland and Crouse. ... Perlini will move up to the first line with Dvorak and Vrbata with Keller a scratch. ... McGinn (personal) will not play. ... The Coyotes sent forward Christian Fischer to Tucson of the American Hockey League on Friday.


Who's hot

Backstrom has 15 points (one goal, 14 assists) in the past nine games. ... Johansson has eight points (one goal, seven assists) during a four-game point streak. ... Ovechkin has eight points (five goals, three assists) in his past six games. ... Oshie has nine points (six goals, three assists) in his past six games.

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