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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Wednesday, February 21st (All times eastern)

San Jose Sharks (36-22-1) at Washington Capitals (23-28-9), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pair of struggling teams meet this evening in the nation's capital, where the Washington Capitals host the San Jose Sharks at the Verizon Center.

The Capitals have dropped four games in a row, while the Sharks come into the matchup having lost their last three contests. San Jose hasn't lost four in a row since December 22-28, 2005.

Washington was in action Tuesday evening at the Bell Centre. The Canadiens posted a 5-3 victory, as Chris Higgins and Michael Ryder netted two goals apiece.

Jamie Heward finished with a goal and two assists while Brent Johnson came up with 27 saves for Washington, which is 12 points behind Carolina for the eighth and final postseason berth in the Eastern Conference.

Washington played its third straight game without starting goaltender Olaf Kolzig, who is sidelined indefinitely with a torn MCL in his left knee.

Caps star forward Alexander Ovechkin, who leads his team in goals (34) and assists (38), was held without a point once again in Tuesday's contest. The 21-year-old Russian has been scoreless in three straight games and has just one goal and one assist over his last eight contests.

Starting this evening, the Caps will play five of their next six games on home ice. Washington is 14-12-4 as the host this year.

Meanwhile, the Sharks haven't played since losing an important test in Dallas on Sunday. Mike Ribeiro and Jere Lehtinen both scored a pair of goals to lift the Stars to a 5-2 triumph at the American Airlines Center.

The Sharks and Stars are tied for fifth place in the Western Conference standings with 73 points apiece. The teams are also seven points behind Anaheim for the top spot in the Pacific Division.

Mark Bell and Mike Grier scored Sunday for the Sharks, while Evgeni Nabokov stopped 16 shots.

San Jose captain and leading scorer Patrick Marleau is questionable for tonight's game after missing Tuesday's practice with an illness. Marleau has 29 goals and 35 assists on the season.

The Sharks are expected to have forward Curtis Brown back in the lineup tonight after he missed the last two games due to the birth of his third son. Brown has seven goals and eight assists this year and is key component of San Jose's penalty-killing unit.

Tonight marks the sixth test of an eight-game road trip for San Jose, which is 2-3-0 so far on the swing and 18-11-0 as the visiting club this season.

This evening's game between the Sharks and Capitals marks the only time this season the clubs will meet. San Jose has dominated the series in recent years, winning nine straight overall matchups and five in a row at Washington.

02/21 10:28:29 ET

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