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National Hockey League

NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, January 4th (All times Eastern)

Washington Capitals (20-15-6) at Minnesota Wild (21-17-5), 8 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Capitals are looking to avoid matching their longest winless streak of the season. They can do so by securing their first victory in Minnesota as they visit the Wild on Saturday night.

The Capitals have lost three straight and fell for the second time beyond regulation over that span with a 4-3 overtime setback to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night. Jeff Skinner ended the game by completing a hat trick 1:20 into the extra frame.

A Washington turnover in the offensive zone triggered a 3-on-1 rush by Carolina and Skinner tapped in Ryan Murphy's feed past Capitals goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who ended with 29 saves.

Alex Ovechkin, Troy Brouwer and Steve Oleksy all scored during a lively second period for the Capitals, who are 1-2-3 over their last six games.

"We are not playing our best hockey, but we are finding a way to get some points in the mix," Oleksy said.

Washington has gone four in a row without a win just once prior this season, an 0-3-1 skid from Nov. 20-27.

Ovechkin will look to stay on track after netting his NHL-leading 31st goal of the season. He had gone four straight games without a point for the first time this season.

The winger has four goals and two assists in six career games versus the Wild, scoring once in a 3-2 shootout victory at home over Minnesota on Nov. 7. Nicklas Backstrom had the lone tally of the shootout.

It was Washington's second victory in a row over the Wild, but the franchise has gone 0-5-1 all-time in Minnesota during this series.

The Capitals visit a Wild club that snapped a season-high six-game slide with Thursday's 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Marco Scandella and Jason Pominville potted goals 1:46 apart during Minnesota's three-goal second period.

Jason Zucker capped the second-period surge with his first goal of the season, while Niklas Backstrom backstopped the victory with 19 saves for his first win in nine decisions.

He got the start in net as Josh Harding was battling illness.

"Backstrom is a huge story in the game for me," said Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo. "He was huge, even though we didn't give up a ton. We played a better game in front of him."

Kyle Brodziak was awarded an empty-net goal for the Wild, who had lost all six of their previous games in regulation and won for the first time on a four- game homestand that ends tonight.

Minnesota had won two straight in a shootout before the six-game skid.

01/04 10:52:43 ET