April 18 vs. Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place
Time: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: 106.7 The Fan/Capitals Radio Network
Washington Capitals (24-17-2)
Ottawa Senators (22-14-6)
The Capitals embark upon their final road trip of the 2012-13 regular season, a two-game tour through Eastern Canada that takes them to Ottawa and Montreal. First stop is Ottawa, where the Caps will take on the Senators on Thursday.
As they head out for their final trip, the Caps carry an eight-game points streak on the road. Washington is 7-0-1 in its last eight road outings, and it has won each of its last three tilts outside the District. The Capitals are 11-9-2 on the road for the season.
Washington has won eight straight games overall, matching its third-longest streak since the 1983-84 season. The Caps ran their winning streak to eight in a row with a thorough 5-1 thumping of the Toronto Maple Leafs at Verizon Center on Tuesday night.
Five different Caps scored and five different Caps recorded multiple-point games in the win over the Leafs. Washington’s penalty-killing outfit was perfect and its power play connected for a pair of goals for the second time in as many games. Goaltender Braden Holtby made 29 saves to earn his 20th victory of the season.
The Caps scored three of their five goals against Toronto in the second period, marking the sixth straight game in which Washington has netted multiple goals in the middle frame of the game. During its eight-game winning streak, Washington has outscored the opposition by a combined total of 19-4 in the middle period. In their last 18 games, the Caps own a 31-10 advantage over their opponents in the second period. Washington is 14-3-1 in its last 18 games.
Capitals defensemen had a hand in all five of Washington’s goals on Tuesday against Toronto. Washington blueliners have combined for nine goals and 22 points during the life of the team’s eight-game winning streak.
On the season, Caps defensemen have totaled 25 goals in 43 games, just five goals shy of the 30 goals Washington’s blueline corps scored in the entire 82 games of 2011-12. Thirteen of those 25 goals from defensemen this season have come in the Capitals’ last dozen games.
Holtby has started 27 of Washington’s last 32 games. During that stretch, he is 19-7-1 with four shutouts, a 2.31 GAA and a .928 save pct.
Washington hasn’t seen the Senators since Jan. 29 when it suffered a 3-2 setback to the Sens in Ottawa. The Caps had that game under control until late in the second period, and they took a 2-1 lead into the third. But a late power play goal from ex-Caps defenseman Sergei Gonchar sent the Caps to defeat, a loss that left them with a 1-4-1 record on the then-young season.
With five games remaining in the season, Washington leads Winnipeg by four points in the race for the Southeast Division crown. The Capitals’ magic number to clinch their fifth Southeast Division title in the last six seasons is seven. Any combination of points gained by the Capitals or points not gained by the Jets that adds up to seven gives the crown to the Caps.
Ottawa is 14-3-3 on its home ice surface this season. The Senators are tied for the second fewest regulation losses at home this season in the NHL. Boston is 14-3-2 at home and Chicago is 16-3-2. Only San Jose (14-1-5) has suffered fewer regulation setbacks at home than the Senators.
The Senators seem to have moved past a recent rough patch. Ottawa dropped five straight games from March 30-April 9, but they’ve since righted their ship by reeling off three straight wins. The Sens have allowed a total of just three goals during their three-game winning streak.
Senators goaltender Craig Anderson was sidelined for several weeks with an ankle ailment, but he’s back and at the top of his game. In four games since his return, Anderson is 2-2-0 with a shutout, a 1.77 GAA and a .935 save pct. In 10 home starts this season, Anderson is 7-0-2 with two shutouts, a 1.33 GAA and a .959 save pct.
Knowing that Anderson was on the verge of returning to action, Ottawa was able to deal goaltender Ben Bishop to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for rookie forward Cory Conacher at the April 3 NHL trade deadline. Among all Ottawa skaters, Conacher has the most points this season with 26 (10 goals, 16 assists).
The Sens have been involved in 25 one-goal games of the 42 they’ve played thus far in the 2012-13 campaign. Ottawa is 10-9-6 in those 25 one-goal games.
With an average of just 2.38 goals per game this season, the Senators rank 23rd in the NHL. Ottawa has allowed just 2.07 goals per game, second in the NHL and tops among all Eastern Conference clubs.
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