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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, February 3rd (All times eastern)

Washington Capitals (32-15-4) at New Jersey Devils (32-15-3), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pair of first-place teams will collide in New Jersey tonight, as the scorching Devils welcome the Washington Capitals for a battle at Prudential Center.

With eight straight victories, the Devils are currently the hottest team in the NHL and haven't lost since dropping a game in Anaheim on January 11. The streak has helped catapult New Jersey to the top of the Atlantic Division, where it leads the New York Rangers by five points.

The Southeast Division-leading Capitals come into this evening's test with 68 points -- one point ahead of Jersey for second place in the Eastern Conference. Boston is leading the East with 80 points.

The Devils picked up their most recent win in dramatic fashion, as they notched an overtime victory Friday against visiting Pittsburgh. Jamie Langenbrunner tied the game with 30.1 to play and scored the game-winner with one minute left in OT as New Jersey edged the Penguins, 4-3, at the Rock.

The Devils thoroughly dominated the extra session and got the extra point as Travis Zajac slid a pass from the right circle to the left where Langenbrunner blasted a one-timer past Marc-Andre Fleury for the win.

Brendan Shanahan had a goal and an assist while Bobby Holik also lit the lamp for the Devils, who last won nine in a row from November 17 to December 7 of last season. Scott Clemmensen made 13 saves in the win.

Langenbrunner picked up a pair of honors recently, as he was named the NHL's First Star for the week ending February 1 and he was also deemed the player of the month for January. He had six goals last week alone and finished with 17 points (9 goals, 8 assists) in 14 January games.

Zach Parise has also been hot for the Devils and comes into tonight riding a six-game point streak. He has four goals and four assists during the run.

The Devils are 15-8-1 as the host this season and have won four of their last five home games.

Meanwhile, the Caps are coming off a 7-4 pounding of the Ottawa Senators on Sunday afternoon and have won two straight and five of their last seven games. Alex Ovechkin recorded his seventh career hat trick to lift Washington to the home win at the Verizon Center.

The reigning MVP, Ovechkin recorded his second straight multi-goal game and is vying to become a two-time winner of the Rocket Richard trophy, leading the league in goals with 36. The 23-year-old Russian is also just one goal shy of 200 markers for his career.

Mike Green registered a goal and three assists for the Capitals. Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and an assist, while Sergei Fedorov collected three helpers.

Brent Johnson made 34 saves to improve his record to 9-0-1 at home this season.

The Capitals are just 11-12-3 as the visiting club this year and have lost two straight and three of their last five road tests.

On the injury front, Capitals forward Chris Clark will undergo surgery on his right wrist later this week and is expected to miss the remainder of the regular season. Clark, the team's captain, has one goal and five assists this season.

New Jersey is 2-1-0 against the Caps this season, but both of the Devils' victories came via the shootout. The Devils have taken three of five and five of the last eight encounters overall and Washington has dropped two of three and nine of its previous 11 games in the Garden State.

02/03 10:32:25 ET


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