GAME: Washington Capitals (11-23-4-1) at Ottawa Senators (19-10-5-3).
TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.
The Ottawa Senators hardly resemble the team that started the season.
Ottawa tries to extend its longest unbeaten streak of the season to nine
games when it faces the last-place Washington Capitals.
The Senators started this season strong with a 5-1-0-1 record, but then hit
a 4-7-2-2 skid that briefly left them last in the Northeast Division. However,
Ottawa enters this weekend as one of the league's hottest teams, unbeaten in
its last eight games (6-0-2) and with just two losses in its last 15 (10-2-3).
Captain Daniel Alfredsson even went so far as to guarantee that the Senators
would win the Stanley Cup.
"Go ahead and write it, I guarantee we'll win the Cup," he said. "I
strongly believe this team will do it. No question about it. Hopefully this
year. We've got the core, for sure, especially when we get everybody healthy."
Ottawa, which had the league's best record last season and reached Game 7 of
the Eastern Conference finals, has moved within six points of Toronto for the
top spot in the Northeast Division.
The Senators proved they are the hottest team in the East, as they ended the
New York Islanders' six-game win streak, 1-0 Thursday.
Patrick Lalime made 32 saves for Ottawa's second consecutive shutout
following Martin Prusek's effort in a 3-0 win in Boston on Tuesday. Lalime and
Prusek have combined to allow just 11 goals during the eight-game streak.
"It just shows that we're committed to play well in our own end," Lalime
said. "We had a big game. We stayed patient the whole way and we got the big
goal with five minutes left."
With Lalime's wife due to give birth to their second child Friday, Prusek is
scheduled to start Saturday.
Senators right wing Martin Havlat was suspended for two games for kicking
Islanders defenseman Eric Cairns on Friday. Havlat will not play Saturday, or
Tuesday against Tampa Bay.
One night after an embarrassing 7-1 loss at Buffalo, the Capitals rallied
for a 2-2 tie against visiting New Jersey on Thursday.
Joel Kwiatkowski scored the tying goal on the power play early in the third
period, as Washington moved to 1-4-3 in the last eight games.
"After losing the way we did, a team can easily go south, especially with
what our record is," Capitals forward Mike Grier said. "To come back and a
play gutty game like that against the Stanley Cup champions, it's big for us."
The Caps played Thursday without right wing Peter Bondra due to a groin
injury, and learned Friday that center Dainius Zubrus would be sidelined two to
four weeks with a broken bone in his right foot.