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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Wednesday, December 30th (All times eastern)

Washington Capitals (24-9-6) at San Jose Sharks (24-8-7), 10 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Many feel that the Alex Ovechkin-led Capitals are one of the top teams in the NHL. However, statistically they are still one small step behind the Sharks.

Washington has a chance to become the league's leader in points tonight in a matchup with San Jose at HP Pavilion, where the Capitals haven't won in over 16 years.

The Capitals are second in the Eastern Conference with 54 points, which also has them 14 points up on the Thrashers for first place in the Southeast Division. Washington trails San Jose, Chicago and New Jersey by a point for the most in the NHL and will try to take over that distinction tonight. While the Sharks host the Capitals, the Devils are taking on the Penguins tonight. The Blackhawks are off.

San Jose isn't likely to be intimidated in a visit by Washington. The Sharks are 8-0 with a tie in its last nine home games versus the Capitals, and haven't lost to them in San Jose since October 30, 1993.

The Sharks did have an 11-game series winning streak snapped earlier this year in a 4-1 setback in Washington on October 15. Ovechkin scored twice in that game, which gave the Caps their first win over the Sharks since February 20, 1999.

Washington comes into this game having had a three-game winning streak snapped with Monday's 6-3 setback to Carolina, which scored three times in the contest's first period.

Ovechkin and Mike Green each notched a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who lost for the first time in nine games against their own division. Eric Fehr also scored and Jose Theodore stopped just 20-of-25 shots in defeat.

"We had too many penalties in the first period and they took advantage of it," said Ovechkin. "They felt good after that and kept pushing and we couldn't do anything about it."

Tonight will mark the Capitals debut of Jason Chimera, who was acquired from Columbus on Monday for former captain Chris Clark and defenseman Milan Jurcina. Chimera had eight goals and 17 points in 39 games with the Blue Jackets.

He might just help the Capitals end their skid in San Jose, as he has scored twice in two games versus the Sharks this year.

The Sharks, meanwhile, have countered a season-worst five-game skid with five victories in a row. That leaves them just one triumph shy of their best winning streak of the season, set from October 24-November 4.

San Jose picked up a big win over Phoenix on Monday, skating to a 3-2 shootout victory. Joe Pavelski scored in regulation and notched the game-winner in the deciding frame.

Devin Setoguchi also scored and Evgeni Nabokov made 31 saves.

"He made some big saves," Pavelski said of Nabokov. "They've got some guys that can shoot the puck. We know we're going to have to give up something (but) we have confidence that he can make the saves back there.

San Jose owns a two-point lead over Phoenix for first place in the Pacific Division.

12/30 10:59:28 ET

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