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Senators seeking Capital gains

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Alex Kovalev and the Senators aim to make some offensive noise of their own when they face the Capitals in Washington tonight (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images).

Check out the NHL's game notes for tonight's Ottawa-Washington matchup .

All eyes figure to be on Alex Ovechkin, as they usually are whenever the Washington Capitals' top gun hits the ice.

But the Ottawa Senators hope to attract a little attention of their own when they face off against the Southeast Division-leading Caps tonight at a sold-out Verizon Center in Washington (7 p.m., TSN, Team 1200).

While containing Ovechkin and the high-octane Capitals attack is surely paramount for Senators' victory chances, head coach Cory Clouston made it clear earlier today that his team needs to force the home side to play a little defence of their own, too.

"This isn’t all about them. It’s about us as well," Clouston said after the Senators' pre-game skate at the Verizon Center. "They’ve got a couple of key players that we have to make difficult entries for (and) take away their time and space. We also want to make them worry a little bit about us, too. We can't just focus strictly on them. We have to make sure they have awareness of where we are as well."

Ottawa gave the Caps something to think about in that area back on Nov. 23, wiping out a 3-1 third-period deficit en route to a 4-3 overtime triumph at Scotiabank Place.

"I thought we played them well here, even from what I saw," said Senators goaltender Pascal Leclaire, who wasn't around for the finish of that one – he was struck by a puck on the bench and departed the game with what turned out to be a fractured cheekbone. "We have to be disciplined and not give them time on the power play.

"We all know them and what they can do. We just have to make sure we're ready to play."

"This isn’t all about them. It’s about us as well. They’ve got a couple of key players that we have to make difficult entries for (and) take away their time and space. We also want to make them worry a little bit about us, too. We can't just focus strictly on them. We have to make sure they have awareness of where we are as well." - Cory Clouston
As it turns out, Leclaire and forward Alex Kovalev both will be good to go tonight. Both skipped practice on Wednesday but have been slotted into the lineup tonight. That's definitely good news against an opponent that's 13-3-3 on home ice this season and owns a wealth of dynamic offensive talent.

"They're as dangerous offensively as any other team," said Clouston. "They've got arguably the best goal scorer in the league right now. (Ovechkin) is very dangerous and can dominate a game all by himself.

"And when you have a guy like (Mike) Green on the back end who can generate offence, it's very dangerous. But we played them well in our building and we should be able to build some confidence off that game."

Said Leclaire: "Those guys are so good, especially Ovechkin. You've got to be aware of where he is at all times. You don't have a lot of time to react and he shoots the puck a lot."

Around the boards

Clouston will stick with the same lineup he used Tuesday against the Boston Bruins, meaning defenceman Chris Campoli is the healthy scratch ... Senators lines during the pre-game skate: Jarkko Ruutu-Chris Kelly-Chris Neil, Alex Kovalev-Mike Fisher-Ryan Shannon, Milan Michalek-Peter Regin-Nick Foligno and Shean Donovan-Jesse Winchester-Jonathan Cheechoo ... CBC's Hockey Night in Canada has added Saturday's matchup with the Florida Panthers to its broadcast schedule. It's a 7 p.m. start at Scotiabank Place.


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