(Sports Network) - The Washington Capitals look to tighten their grip on first
place in the Southeast Division with a ninth straight victory on Thursday
night as they battle the Ottawa Senators, who bring a more modest three-game
winning streak into the meeting.
The Capitals are on their longest winning streak since taking nine in a row
from Feb. 26-March 15, 2011. Their current run has vaulted them to the top of
the division with 50 points, four ahead of the Winnipeg Jets with five games
to go for both clubs.
The Jets host the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday and will also visit
Washington on April 23 in the final regular season meeting this season between
Washington is closing in on its sixth straight playoff berth and the first
four came as division champs. The Capitals are looking to regain the Southeast
crown and were able to best the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1 on Tuesday.
Alex Ovechkin scored his 18th goal in 16 games, and his league-leading 28th of
the season, while Martin Erat scored his first goal since being acquired from
the Nashville Predators before the trade deadline. The duo each had an assist
Troy Brouwer, Jack Hillen and Marcus Johansson also tallied, while Mike
Ribeiro, Mike Green and John Carlson added a pair of helpers each. Braden
Holtby made 29 saves in the win.
"We honestly haven't talked about statistics, where we are, how many (wins) in
a row, man we're playing good," said Capitals head coach Adam Oates. "One of
the things we talk about is I expect all those guys to be pros. You can enjoy
tonight for sure. It was a good game, (but) tomorrow we focus on Ottawa."
The Sens should be just as focused after ripping off their third straight
victory on Tuesday with a 3-2 win over the Hurricanes. Ottawa's current run
follows a five-game slide and the club sits sixth overall in the Eastern
The Senators are three points back of the Maple Leafs for the fifth spot and
one up on the seventh-place New York Islanders. Ottawa, looking to reach the
playoffs for the third time in the past four years, is also four points ahead
of the New York Rangers and Jets, who are tied for the eighth and final
playoff spot in the East.
All four of those teams are in action today.
Mika Zibanejad, Milan Michalek and Chris Neil all scored in Tuesday's win,
while Craig Anderson made 32 saves. Sergei Gonchar finished with two assists.
"We keep climbing and putting ourselves in a good situation," Neil said. "We
don't want to have to see if a team is going to lose to see if we make the
playoffs. We want to go in hot, we want to go in winning.
Ottawa will play the second of a four-game homestand and has won seven of
its past nine at home versus Washington. That includes a 3-2 victory on Jan.
29 in the first of three scheduled meetings between the teams this season.
They will also battle in Washington on April 25.
The Sports Network