Alex Ovechkin began the season with a flourish, recording an opening-night hat trick in a 5-4 shootout victory over the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 5. The three-time Hart Trophy recipient looks to recapture that magic and snap a six-game goal drought on Wednesday as the Washington Capitals host the Senators.
While Ovechkin is mired in a modest goal-scoring slump, fellow forward Nicklas Backstrom has failed to find the back of the net in his last 15 games - although coach Barry Trotz believes the Swede is knocking on the door. “Against Minnesota (on Saturday), he could’ve had a hat trick, and they’re not going in easy for him,” Trotz told the Washington Post. “I think you get more concerned when you’re not getting any chances. ... Would I like more? Yeah, absolutely.” Ottawa would accept anything as it has mustered just three goals overall in its last three games (0-2-1) and is 0-for-11 on the power play in that stretch. “As of right now, it’s not going the way we want to,” Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson said. “It’s something we know and that we’re trying to figure out. We’re going to have to find a way here to sort that out as soon as possible.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet East, TVAS (Ottawa), NBCSN Washington
ABOUT THE SENATORS (8-5-6): Ottawa recalled 2015 first-round pick Thomas Chabot from Belleville of the American Hockey League on the heels of the scary head injury sustained by fellow defenseman Mark Borowiecki in Sunday’s 3-0 setback to the New York Rangers. Chabot excited the Senators’ fan base with two assists in three games during the team’s season-opening western Canadian road swing, although coach Guy Boucher told the Toronto Sun that expectations need to be tempered. “We’re happy to see Chabot here, but don’t make it any bigger than it is,” Boucher said. “He’s here because (Borowiecki is injured). He’s still developing. He still has some things to work on, but we’re definitely going to use his strengths.”
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (11-10-1): Washington has been outscored 17-9 during its last four games (1-3-0), with Lars Eller netting the team’s lone goal in a 4-1 setback to Calgary on Monday. “I know this team can bring a lot more than that, than what we’ve been showing. It’s been a little bit of a theme for us lately,” Eller said. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored two goals and set up two others in his previous three games before being held in check versus the Flames, but the 25-year-old Russian looks to fluster the Senators again after notching three assists in the first encounter.
1. Ottawa RW Mark Stone, who scored twice in the first meeting with Washington, has 10 goals in the last 12 games overall.
2. Capitals G Braden Holtby has surrendered 11 goals in his last three outings (1-2-0) after permitting that same total during his six-game winning streak.
3. Ottawa C Derick Brassard scored a goal and set up two others in the first encounter with Washington, but has just five points (all assists) in his last 11 games.
PREDICTION: Capitals 4, Senators 2