The Washington Capitals and Arizona Coyotes are streaking in distinctly different directions, so much so that one would wonder if the clubs could stay still long enough to meet for a game at Gila River Arena. The Capitals have looked every bit like the two-time reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners with victories in 11 of their last 13 contests, while the Coyotes have dropped seven in a row and 10 of their last 11 (1-8-2).
Andre Burakovsky capped a career high-tying three-point performance with his second goal of the night in Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime win over Dallas to open a four-game road trip. “It was nice to see (Burakovsky) get back on the goal-scoring chart. It was good to get him a couple,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said of the 22-year-old Austrian, who had just one goal in his first 14 games this season. The Coyotes can relate to the scoring drought, as they have mustered just nine during their seven-game skid (0-6-1) and yielded three tallies in six minutes of a 3-2 setback to Florida on Tuesday. “It’s probably the most disappointed I have been with the team all year,” Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said. “... We will get it right. We are going to weed some people out of here eventually and get this thing right.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, NBCSN Washington-Plus, FSN Arizona
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (22-12-1): Captain Alex Ovechkin has erupted for 19 points (10 goals, nine assists) in his previous 12 games before being held off the scoresheet against the Stars. The three-time Hart Trophy winner scored a power-play goal in Washington’s 3-2 overtime win over Arizona on Nov. 6, continuing a trend of tormenting the Coyotes that dates back to his scintillating goal as he slid along the ice in 2006. Ovechkin has 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 15 career meetings with the Arizona-based club.
ABOUT THE COYOTES (7-24-5): Derek Stepan quietly has made noise in his first season in the desert, scoring against the Panthers to give him 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in his past 18 games. Fellow forward Christian Fischer also tallied against Florida for his first goal this month and fourth since he found the back of the net in the first encounter with Washington. Rookie Clayton Keller also scored against the Capitals as Arizona claimed a quick 2-0 lead before seeing the bottom fall out - like it did against Florida.
1. Washington C Nicklas Backstrom is riding a three-game point streak and has four goals and as many assists in his last seven contests.
2. Arizona has a league-worst three wins at home, a full three fewer than the next Western Conference team.
3. Capitals D John Carlson, who scored in overtime against the Coyotes last month, is riding a four-game point streak (one goal, three assists).
PREDICTION: Capitals 4, Coyotes 2