Wild-Capitals Preview

The Associated Press

The Capitals' offense has been clicking with 15 goals in the last three games - numbers that haven't seemed out of the ordinary for Washington in recent years.

While the Minnesota Wild haven't been known for piling up goals, they're doing their best at the moment to match Alex Ovechkin and Co. with 13 in their last three.

It's been the best three-game stretch of the season for both teams, who will look to keep lighting up the lamps Thursday night in Washington.

Over the last five seasons, the Capitals are tied for second in the league in regular-season goals scored, while Minnesota is last in that span.

The Wild (9-4-3) have won six of seven and three in a row for the third time this year. The previous two streaks both ended with one-goal outputs.

Their latest streak includes a 5-1 home win Tuesday against Calgary in which the Wild fell behind in the first but scored five unanswered goals to match a season high. Their three tallies in the third were their most in a period this season.

Zach Parise scored twice with an assist, while Mikko Koivu got the tying goal midway through the first and added a pair of assists.

"I like the way we responded, getting the quick reply, especially who got it for us," coach Mike Yeo said of Koivu's goal. "That was a good message to the group that we were going to bounce back."

Jason Pominville was held without a goal after scoring six in his previous four games. He leads the Wild with 10 a season after scoring 14 in 47 games.

They might not need another big offensive night if Josh Harding continues his stellar play in net. Harding is 8-2-1 with a 1.09 goals-against average and .951 save percentage. He's won his last five starts, has two shutouts and has allowed more than a goal twice.

"It's impressive. That's all you can say," Yeo said. "It's really impressive. He's - again - making saves, but handling the puck and just looking really confident in the net."

Harding took a tough loss in his only career start against the Caps, stopping 38 of 40 shots in a 3-1 defeat at Washington on Nov. 13, 2009.

The Capitals (8-7-0) scored at least six goals for the second time in three games in Tuesday's 6-2 win against the New York Islanders.

They've won three in a row for the second time this season.

Ovechkin returned from a two-game injury absence and got a pair of scores on the power play, giving him 12 goals in 13 games.

"I felt pretty refreshed out there," Ovechkin said. "Of course I had a few days off, had a couple of breaks, but I feel pretty good."

The Capitals went 4 of 6 with the man advantage and have the league's best power play (27.9 percent). The Wild are second at 25.0. The Capitals also lead the league on the penalty kill at 91.5 percent, while the Wild are 25th (77.8).

The nation's capital hasn't been the ideal setting for Minnesota's offense over the years. The Wild are 1-5-0 there all-time and have scored more than a goal only once.

Their last visit ended with a 3-0 loss on March 25, 2012, anchored by current Capitals goalie Braden Holtby in his only career game against Minnesota.

Wild defenseman Keith Ballard will be out with an upper-body injury unrelated to his previous injury this season.