The Washington Capitals will try to extend a five-game win streak when they host the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night.
The Capitals haven’t lost since Dec. 15, ripping off wins against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Senators, Winnipeg Jets and New York Rangers. Washington has outscored opponents 20-8 during that stretch.
Washington has also won 10 of its last 11 dating back to Dec. 5, winning as many games in December as it had won in October and November combined. The Capitals are 13-3-1 since Nov. 23.
In their last outing, the Capitals blanked the Rangers 4-0 on the strength of 32 saves from Darcy Kuemper. It was Kuemper’s third shutout of the season.
“I think coming off the break and being on the run we were before the break we just wanted to hit the ground running again and pick up where we left off,” Kuemper said.
“When there is a little bit of rust after a few days, I think you rely a little bit more on the team game. We just had a mature effort, no one was trying to do anything too much and we just played as a five-man unit at all times.”
Ottawa also won its first game back from the NHL’s three-day holiday break, beating the Boston Bruins 3-2 in a shootout on Tuesday.
Cam Talbot was the hero, making 49 saves — including 26 in the third period — and not allowing a goal in the shootout.
“Honestly, I can’t really describe it,” Talbot said. “You’re just focused in on that puck, trying to do whatever you can to get your body or whatever in front of it. That’s all I was trying to do.”
Amazingly, Talbot was also able to find critiques of his game after a career night.
“I feel I left a few too many rebounds out there and gave them a few too many second chances, but more often than not we were able to clear those out,” he said. “A great job by our guys battling tonight.”
Assuming both got needed rest on Wednesday, both Talbot and Kuemper are expected to be in the net again on Thursday for a scintillating matchup of goalies playing their best hockey.
Kuemper has a .920 save percentage and 2.40 goals-against average in 22 starts. In 20 games (18 starts), Talbot has a .915 save percentage and 2.66 GAA.
Alex Ovechkin recently passed Gordie Howe for second in NHL history with 802 career goals. Ovechkin now has his sights on trying to reach Wayne Gretzky’s all-time mark of 894.
Ovechkin leads the Capitals in goals (22) and points (41). Evgeny Kuznetsov has 29 points (five goals, team-high 24 assists), while Dylan Strome has 26 (six goals, 20 assists).
Brady Tkachuk leads the Senators’ offense with 37 points (13 goals, team-high 24 assists), while Drake Batherson (12 goals, 21 assists) and Alex DeBrincat (11 goals, 22 assists) each have 33. Claude Giroux (team-high 14 goals, 15 assists) and Tim Stutzle (11 goals, 18 assists) are each one point away from reaching the 30-point mark.
–Field Level Media