Inquirer Daily News

Struggling Capitals hit the road to battle Devils

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Capitals are currently mired in a lengthy slump and once again it's possible Alex Ovechkin won't be there to help them get out of it.

With or without the NHL's leading goal-scorer, the Capitals hope to end a six- game slide when they visit the New Jersey Devils for Friday's battle at the Prudential Center.

Washington is 0-4-2 over its last six outings and the club has lost the last four in regulation. Ovechkin, who is pacing the league with 35 goals, has been absent the last two games due to a lower-body injury and he missed practice again on Thursday. However, the three-time Hart Trophy winner is making the trip to New Jersey and he is considered questionable for Friday's tilt.

The Capitals have scored more than one goal on just one occasion during its current skid and they were shut out 2-0 in Tuesday's home test against the Ottawa Senators. Craig Anderson made 34 saves to keep Washington off the board, as the Caps fell for the 10th time in 12 games (2-6-4).

Braden Holtby stopped 24-of-26 shots in the tough-luck loss for the Capitals, who have lost six straight for the first time since an 0-6-2 stretch from Dec. 2-18, 2010.

"If you're not winning, there's a reason you're not winning," Capitals forward Brooks Laich said. "When you win, it's because you deserve to win, generally. And if you're not winning, do something extra. Honestly, we're tired of talking about it. Well done is better than well said. If you want to talk about it, go show it on the ice."

The Caps now will try to solve their issues on the road, as they're set to begin a five-game swing tonight. That could be a problem, however, considering Washington is just 8-11-4 as the guest this season compared to a 14-9-4 mark on home ice.

While Washington will take a win of any kind on Friday, the Devils were able to record a truly impressive win in their last trip to the ice. New Jersey hosted one of the best teams in the Western Conference on Tuesday in the St. Louis Blues and wound up recording a 7-1 rout, as the usually low-scoring Devils set a season high in goals scored.

The Devils are ranked 26th in the league with an average of 2.39 goals per game but they were able to score early and often in Tuesday's blowout win. The six-goal triumph beat a 5-0 win over visiting Nashville on Nov. 10 for the club's largest margin of victory this season and it also halted a two-game slide.

Damien Brunner returned from a 14-game absence and registered a goal and two assists to pace the offense. Eric Gelinas also collected a goal and two helpers, while Mark Fayne, Ryan Carter, Ryane Clowe, Jaromir Jagr and Adam Henrique each scored once for the Devils, who improved to 4-1-2 over their last seven games.

Cory Schneider backstopped the easy victory with 26 saves.

"I thought we all did a great job out there tonight," said Schneider. "We got those quick goals and that always makes things a lot easier for me."

Forward Adam Henrique missed Tuesday's win with a hand injury and is questionable for Friday's tilt. He has 13 goals on the season to trail only Jagr and Michael Ryder for the team lead. Jagr and Ryder each have 16 goals.

New Jersey, which is three points out of the last playoff spot in the East, has won three straight on home ice and is 11-6-6 in Newark this season. The Devils will play the host in Sunday's outdoor game against the New York Rangers at Yankee Stadium.

The Devils posted a 5-4 overtime win at Washington on Dec. 21 with Andy Greene providing the game-winner just 43 second into the extra session. Martin Brodeur picked up the win in that contest, but Schneider expects to get the start tonight.

Jersey has claimed six of the past seven meetings in this series overall and the Caps have lost two in a row and five of the last seven encounters in the Garden State.

01/24 10:12:35 ET