NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, March 16th
(All times eastern)
Washington Capitals (41-20-10) at Detroit Red Wings (41-20-8), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A franchise record-tying road winning streak has Washington
vaulting to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. With that much
momentum, evening a trip to Detroit might not slow the club down.
The Capitals try to extend their longest winning streak of the season with a
seventh consecutive victory on the road as they take on the Detroit Red Wings
in a battle of first-place teams at Joe Louis Arena.
Washington's current run of six road triumphs in a row matches the club record
first set from Feb. 26-April 1, 1984. The Capitals are also riding a season-
high nine-game winning streak, their best since a club-record 14-game run from
Jan. 13-Feb. 7 of last year.
The Caps' latest victory came last night in Montreal, where they skated to a
4-2 victory. Marcus Johansson tallied two goals, Brooks Laich added his 100th
career tally and Mike Knuble also scored. Braden Holtby made 24 saves in his
fourth straight start.
"We played a good game," Johansson said. "We played it simple. It was hard for
them to get any scoring chances when we play like that."
With the win, Washington stayed a point back of Philadelphia for the top spot
in the Eastern Conference and also extended its lead over Tampa Bay for first
place in the Southeast Division to five points. Neither the Flyers or
Lightning are in action tonight, so the Caps have a chance to jump into the
top spot in the conference.
To do that, they'll have to find some success in Motown. Washington and
Detroit split a pair of meetings last year, with each team winning on home
ice. Overall, the Caps have lost four of their last five at Detroit and have
just two victories in their last 10 trips to the Motor City, where they
haven't won since Nov. 24, 2003.
Neither Holtby or fellow goaltender Michal Neuvirth have ever faced the Red
Washington, which has won two of its last three overall versus Detroit, won
the opener of a six-game road trip despite missing a handful of key players.
Defenseman Mike Green missed his ninth game in a row with a head injury, while
center Nicklas Backstrom sat out a fourth consecutive game due to a broken
left thumb. Forward Jason Arnott did not travel with the team due to an
undisclosed injury, while Eric Fehr left Tuesday's game with an upper-body
John Erskine, who also missed last night's game due to illness, may play
The absence of those players will only make things tougher against the Red
Wings, who have won two straight after a season-worst four-game slide (0-2-2).
They bested the Blues, 5-3, on Saturday to reach 90 points in a season for a
15th straight campaign.
Detroit leads the Central Division by six points over Chicago and is two up on
San Jose for the West's second seed, but the club is just trying to take care
of its own business.
"I think our focus the whole year has been about what we are doing,"
defenseman Niklas Kronwall told his team's website on Monday. "It's never
going to be what the other teams do. We all know that we have the ability in
here and it has to come from within."
Pavel Datsyuk had a goal and an assist in Saturday's win, giving him 10 goals
and 17 points in 17 games since coming back from a wrist injury. Kronwall
added a goal and two helpers, while Jimmy Howard posted 26 saves.
Howard is likely to face Washington for the first time in his career tonight
even though backup Chris Osgood was activated off injured reserve Monday.
Osgood had missed the past 27 games due to a sports hernia.
Defenseman Brian Rafalski could also return tonight after missing the past
eight games with back spasms.
03/16 10:33:22 ET