NHL Preview: Washington Capitals at Ottawa Senators – Senators Favored
The surging Senators look for another prolific offensive effort and go for their season-high fifth straight victory Monday night when they host the Washington Capitals.
Ottawa (26-19-2) was in last place in the Northeast Division following its sixth loss in eight games with a 4-2 defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 21, but has taken off since. The Senators are 9-1-1 in their last 11 games, a span which includes a pair of four-game winning streaks, and only four teams in the Eastern Conference have more points.
During the current four-game run, Ottawa has totaled at least five goals in each contest and is outscoring opponents by a 25-10 margin.
The Senators matched their best offensive output of the season Saturday, when they scored four times in each of the first two periods en route to an 8-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. The recently formed line of Chris Kelly, Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley accounted for the bulk of the scoring.
Kelly had a goal and three assists for a career-high four points, Alfredsson had a goal and four assists, and Heatley added a goal and two assists.
"We’re using each other, we’re finding each other, we’re making easy plays and supporting each other and that makes the game a lot easier," said Heatley, who has eight goals and seven assists in the last six games. "Other than that, we’re skating very well and that opens up a lot of room for us."
Alfredsson has four goals and eight assists during the current winning streak, while Kelly has three goals and seven assists. All three members of the line have recorded at least one point in each of the four contests.
Ottawa is seeking its first five-game winning streak since Feb. 11-March 6 of last season, a run which spanned the two-week Olympic break and included a 7-1 rout of Washington.
The Senators have won lost both meetings this season, but each was in Washington.
The Capitals (19-19-7) have had a difficult time winning on the road in recent weeks. Washington dropped its fifth straight game away from the Verizon Center overall and fell to 0-2 on its four-game road trip when it fell 7-3 at Florida on Saturday.
The Capitals have given up 12 goals in the last two games and 26 during their five-game road skid. They got outshot 54-17 against the Panthers, the largest shot differential in any NHL game this season.
"We just didn’t play well tonight, obviously," said Washington goalie Olaf Kolzig, who yielded five goals on 41 shots before being replaced by Brent Johnson for the third period. "They responded well (to a loss in their previous game) and we weren’t prepared for it. If you’re not ready to play or an aspect of your game is a little bit off it’s apparent in this league. We just weren’t on track."
Alexander Ovechkin had one assist in the loss, extending his points streak to six games. He has three goals and nine assists during that stretch.
Ovechkin scored twice in Washington’s 4-3 victory over the Senators on Nov. 6, and had three assists against Ottawa in a 6-2 win exactly one month later.
by: Gary Roberts – theSpread.com – Email Us
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