Capitals-Coyotes Preview

AP - Sports

The Washington Capitals are starting to pick up steam with Alex Ovechkin back on the ice.

Extending their winning streak to five, though, could prove difficult Saturday night in Phoenix, where the Coyotes have been nearly unbeatable.

After missing two games with an upper-body injury, Ovechkin returned to post two goals and an assist in Tuesday's 6-2 rout of the New York Islanders. The superstar forward went on to score his team-leading 13th goal Thursday, helping Washington (9-7-0) pull out a 3-2 shootout victory over Minnesota.

Left wing Marcus Johansson tied it with 3:08 left in regulation and Braden Holtby made 33 saves. The Capitals have outscored opponents 17-6 in winning each of their four games this month.

"(Holtby) made a couple of saves that I was like 'wow, incredible,'" said Nicklas Backstrom, who has three goals and five assists during the win streak. "That's the way the goalies have been playing the last couple of games. And that's what we need - start from the back end and all the way through the team."

Washington plays three of its next four on the road, where it is 3-4-0, and visits Western Conference powerhouse Colorado on Sunday night.

"I think we have to take it as a challenge," Backstrom said. "We've been good here at home, and now we have to play back-to-back on the road. Lots of traveling and playing two really good teams. This is a test for us to see where we are."

Phoenix (11-4-2) has made things especially tough on opponents at home, going 7-0-1 while averaging 3.8 goals. The Coyotes will be trying to win seven straight on their own ice for the first time since Feb. 4-28, 2012.

Phoenix looks to get back on track following Wednesday's 5-2 loss at Anaheim. Captain Shane Doan scored for the fifth time in seven games while goalie Mike Smith struggled for the Coyotes, who blew two one-goal leads as their five-game winning streak was snapped.

"You can't win a game in this league if you're going to turn the puck over and be undisciplined," said coach Dave Tippett, whose team beat Vancouver 3-2 in a shootout the night before.

"We knew it was going to be a hard game, and it was a good test for our team to see how we'd react. When you're chasing in the game - especially when you're playing back-to-backs - you look tired. But we just didn't play smart enough or execute well enough."

Smith could be in for another long night against a Capitals team that has had his number. He has gone 0-6-0 while compiling a 5.03 goals-against average, his highest mark versus any team, and will be facing the Capitals for the first time since 2010 while with Tampa Bay.

Holtby, 6-1-0 with a 2.04 GAA and one shutout in his last seven starts, has never faced Phoenix.

Ovechkin has been held to three points in his past four games against Phoenix.

Coyotes center Mike Ribeiro, who had 49 points in 48 games last season with Washington, has just two assists in his last seven contests.

Capitals left wing Jason Chimera signed a $4 million, two-year extension Friday. He has been held without a point in the last three contests after registering nine of his 11 this season in the previous four games.

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