NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, March 25th
(All times eastern)
Washington Capitals (43-21-10) at Ottawa Senators (28-37-9), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - With 11 victories in their last 12 games, the Washington
Capitals are headed to the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season. They
would like to do so once again as Southeast Division champions.
The Caps hope to take another step towards a fourth straight division title
this evening and sweep their season set with the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank
Washington punched its ticket to the postseason on Tuesday with a 5-4 shootout
victory over Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia.
It wasn't easy, as the Capitals blew a 3-0 lead before getting a game-tying
goal from Marcus Johansson with 3:19 left in regulation. The Capitals then got
shootout tallies from Matt Hendricks, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin,
while Michal Neuvirth stopped one of the three skaters he faced in the
tiebreaker after saving 29 shots through overtime.
"I certainly like how we came out. Everything we were shooting was going in
and we got that three-goal lead," said Mike Knuble, who scored in regulation
to reach the 20-goal mark for an eighth straight season to go along with two
"You knew at some point they were going to come on, and that they weren't
happy with the way things went from the start. ... We kept rolling as a group
and got timely goals to win."
The victory improved Washington to 3-1 on a six-game road trip and was its
eighth win in its last nine on the road. It also gave the Capitals a seven-
point edge over the Lightning for first place in the division with eight games
to go. Tampa Bay does have one game in hand and hosts Carolina tonight.
The Caps are also two points back of the Flyers in the overall standings,
though Philadelphia also has a game in hand and is idle tonight.
Washington will once again be without Alex Ovechkin after announcing on Monday
that its star winger will miss 7-to-10 days with an undisclosed injury. It
might not need him tonight given that Neuvirth has won all three of his
previous career starts versus the Senators with a 1.63 goals-against average.
Neuvirth is expected to get the start tonight, with Semyon Varlamov likely to
get the call on Saturday in Montreal for the first time since Feb. 20 due to
The 23-year-old Neuvirth, who has 24 wins this season, made 22 saves in a 3-1
triumph over Ottawa on Jan. 16, putting the Caps in position to sweep their
four-game set with the Senators for the first time since 2007-08. They have
lost four of their last five trips to Scotiabank Place however.
Ottawa sits last in the East with 65 points, but has won three of its last
four games. It snapped the New York Rangers' longest winning streak of the
season last night with a 2-1 shootout win at Madison Square Garden.
Craig Anderson made 29 saves, including six in overtime, and Erik Karlsson had
the lone goal of the shootout, which came in the fifth round. Ryan Shannon
scored in regulation as Ottawa continues to play the role of spoiler.
"We're not going to let up. We are going to keep pushing the players," said
Senators head coach Cory Clouston. "I thought they responded very well.
Ottawa returns home for a game before starting a three-game swing on Sunday,
but is just 13-19-5 as the host this season.
It is unknown if Anderson will get the call on back-to-back nights or if
Clouston will go with Curtis McElhinney, who yielded seven goals on 31 shots
in his only career start against the Caps.
Anderson is 3-4-0 with a 3.01 GAA versus Washington.
03/25 10:52:55 ET