CAPITALS (36-15-5) at AVALANCHE (33-16-6)
9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, ESPN+, SN360, SNE, SNP, ALT, NBCSWA, NHL.TV
Alex Ovechkin will try to become the eighth player in NHL history to score 700 goals when the Washington Capitals play the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Thursday.
Ovechkin, who has 698 goals, has gone two games without a goal. He has 15 points (14 goals, one assist) in his past nine games.
Center Evgeny Kuznetsov is out because of an upper-body injury. He skated Thursday for the first time since he was injured on a hit by Leo Komarov at 9:14 of the second period of 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday. Kuznetsov is tied for third on the Capitals with 46 points (19 goals, 27 assists) in 53 games.
The Capitals are 1-3-0 in their past four games but are three points ahead of the second-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan Division.
The Avalanche are one point behind the first-place St. Louis Blues in the Central Division and can match a season high with their sixth straight win. Colorado won six straight Nov. 27-Dec. 7.
Players to watch
Capitals forward Jakub Vrana has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in his past 15 games.
Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer is 4-0-0 with a 0.75 goals-against average, a .974 save percentage and one shutout in his past four games.
They said it
"We're in the middle of a process here, going through a tough patch and trying to improve (while) going through a little adversity without one of our top players (Evgeny Kuznetsov). We hope to climb the ladder here in terms of getting back on track for how we're capable of playing." -- Capitals coach Todd Reirden
"An elite goal scorer, a highly competitive guy, hasn't slowed down at all even as he's getting older. He keeps finding a way to produce. With the pre-scouts that are going on, to be able to do that is amazing." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar on Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin
Capitals projected lineup
Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana -- Lars Eller -- T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin -- Travis Boyd -- Richard Panik
Brendan Leipsic -- Nic Dowd -- Garnet Hathaway
Michal Kempny -- John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov -- Nick Jensen
Jonas Siegenthaler -- Radko Gudas
Injured: Evgeny Kuznetsov (upper body)
Avalanche projected lineup
Andre Burakovsky -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen
Gabriel Landeskog -- J.T. Compher -- Joonas Donskoi
Valeri Nichushkin -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Matt Calvert
Tyson Jost -- Vladislav Kamenev -- Matt Nieto
Ryan Graves -- Cale Makar
Samuel Girard -- Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole
Scratched: Mark Barberio
Injured: Nazem Kadri (lower body), Colin Wilson (lower body)
Eller replaces Kuznetsov in the middle of the Capitals' second line. … Barberio, a defenseman, has returned from a conditioning assignment with Colorado of the American Hockey League. He didn't have a point in four games.
Oshie has four points (two goals, two assists) during a three-game point streak. … MacKinnon has six points (two goals, four assists) during a five-game streak. … Makar has five points (one goal, four assists) in the past five games.