The Washington Capitals finally got in the win column on Sunday after a dreadful start, and they come into Ottawa on a winning note to face the Senators.
1-3-1, 14th Eastern Conference
3-1-1, T-3rd Eastern Conference
TV: Rogers Sportsnet, Radio: Team 1200
HEAD TO HEAD
Ottawa won the last match between the clubs last season, but the Capitals took the first 3, with one of the wins coming on overtime.
Washington won for the first time this season, and Alex Ovechkin scored for the first time in Washington’s 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday afternoon. Ottawa dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday evening.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Nicklas Backstrom, WSH – While the struggles of Ovechkin are well documented, Backstrom has struggled just as much to find his game. With just 2 assists in 5 games, he has been separated from Ovie and will need to provide offense with new wingers to get the Capitals on the winning track.
Chris Neil, OTT – Neil has been one of the most consistent forwards so far this season for the Senators. His presence on the third line gives Paul MacLean the advantage of sending him out and knowing exactly what he is going to get – a line that is rugged, can cycle in the offensive end and will occasionally chip in a goal or two.
TOP 3 STORYLINES FOR THE GAME
1. Z-Bad or No Z-Bad – Mika Zibanejad was called up to practice with the Senators during the AHL All-Star break, which continues until Friday for Binghamton. While Paul MacLean was non-committal that Zibanejad would play games, Bryan Murray suggested that the team wants to see where his development is at, and with a good performance could make it difficult to send him back. He has 3 goals and an assist in 7 games since returning from a slate of injuries and illnesses on January 12th. He could see some action on the second line in place of either Guillaume Latendresse or (if he is still sick) Daniel Alfredsson.
2. Anderson Encore – After being snubbed for the league’s 3 stars of the first week despite leading the league in GAA and SP, Craig Anderson might have a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. He has been lights out so far this season and will be looked to for more with a busy schedule this week.
3. End the Slide – It’s not time to panic yet, but the Senators are winless in 2 games. Sliding down the standings, even this early, would be playing with fire in terms of a playoff spot. You can’t clinch a playoff spot in the first month, but you can put yourself out of one. The Senators are in good shape right now, but don’t want an extended losing streak right now.
The Capitals will go as far as Ovechkin takes them. If he is lining up with Jay Beagle and Joey Crabb at even strength as he has been, the Senators should be able to shut him down 5 on 5. Staying out of the penalty box will be essential for the Senators, because that is when Ovechkin will be rejoined with Backstrom, and it is only a matter of time before they re-connect for a big game. Still, this is not a deep Capitals team and they aren’t the potent quick strike offense of old.
Enjoy the game!