Game Preview: Capitals @ Senators

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After a big 6-1 win on home ice over the Hurricanes, the Capitals traveled to Ottawa to take on the Senators in the second part of a back-to-back set. This is the penultimate game before the All Star break. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. on CSN+. 

OTTAWA
The Senators (25-15-5) sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with 55 points, eight points behind Montreal for first. They are coming off a 7-6 overtime loss to the Blue Jackets Sunday after winning three games in a row. Now, where have we seen this before?

Since Ottawa’s loss to Washington on January 7, they have gone 5-1-1, earning six points in their last seven games. Erik Karlsson leads the team in points with 39 and assists with 32. Mike Hoffman and Kyle Turris lead the Sens in goals with 17, while Mark Stone is right behind them with 16 goals.

The Senators recently signed forward Zack Smith to a four-year contract extension, good through the 2020-21 season, and worth $3.25 million each of the four seasons. Smith had two goals in the loss to Columbus and has recorded 11 goals and 11 assists for 22 points in 43 games this season.

Expect Mike Condon to get the start in goal for Ottawa. Their main goaltender, Craig Anderson, took a leave of absence in late-November as his wife is battling a rare form of throat cancer. Condon carries a 13-7-0 record with a 2.48 GAA and a .914 save percentage.

Shots Fired
Ottawa is 25th in the league in shots per game averaging 28.8 a game. They are 12th in the league in shots allowed with 30.4 per game.

Special Teams
The Senators are ranked 17th on the power play with a conversion rate of 17.6%. In Sunday’s loss they went 1/3 on the man advantage, with a goal by Kyle Turris. They are right in the middle of the pack on the penalty kill (15th) with an 81.5% success rate

WASHINGTON
The Capitals (32-9-6) are the hottest team in hockey in 2017 calendar year. Washington hasn’t lost a regulation game since December 27th. After a tough overtime loss to the Penguins this past Monday, Washington has won three in a row. They recently came from behind Saturday night to beat the Stars in Dallas for the first time since October of 2008, thanks to an overtime goal by Jay Beagle. On Monday night, the Capitals returned home and got a big 6-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. The Caps are tops in the league with 70 points, two points ahead of the Blue Jackets.

The Capitals have scored four or more goals in 11 of their last 13 games. Nicklas Backstrom leads the team in scoring with 46 points and 33 assists. Alex Ovechkin leads the Caps with 22 goals. Andre Burakovksy has been heating up lately, Dmitry Orlov scored twice Monday night, Justin Williams has scored five goals in his last five games, and just about everybody on the team is chipping in during this run.

After Braden Holtby got the start Monday night, the Capitals will turn to Philipp Grubauer tonight. Grubauer got the win in his most recent start at Dallas, and carries a 9-1-2 record with a 2.05 GAA and .925 save percentage. The Caps look to extend their point streak to 15 straight games tonight, which would tie a franchise record that was set back in the 2009-10 season.

Shots Fired
The Capitals are 16th in shots taken per game with 29.7. The Caps shot the puck 65 times during their last three games and scored 17 goals, good for 26.1%. They have allowed 28 shots per game, good for 25th in the NHL.

Special Teams
Washington is near the middle of the pack on the power play with a conversion rate of 20.7%, good for 13th in the NHL . They went 1/2 on the power play last night with Dmitry Orlov getting the tally. Washington is third in the NHL in the penalty kill with a success rate of 85.7%.

THE MATCHUP
The Capitals and Senators face off for the third and final time this season. They met twice this month with Washington winning both games. The first meeting came on New Years Day where the Capitals prevailed on home ice 2-1. The second meeting came just six days later in Ottawa as the Caps won 1-0. In that game, Nicklas Backstrom got his 500th assist on the lone goal the Capitals scored. Highlights from that game are below.

Series Flashback:

Game Links:
Game Notes at Ottawa, 1/24/17 (Capitals PR)
Caps Take on Sens in Ottawa (Mike Vogel)

By Michael Marzzacco

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