Now that the Washington Capitals have ended their longtime struggles in one building, perhaps they have enough momentum to overcome another nemesis on home ice.
The Capitals look to defeat the Ottawa Senators at home for the first time in more than five years Monday when the teams face off at the Verizon Center.
Alexander Ovechkin scored two of Washington’s four first-period goals and increased his team-leading points total to 16 on Saturday as the Capitals (5-4-4) defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3 at the Wachovia Center. The victory snapped a 16-game winless streak in Philadelphia for the Capitals, who concluded a stretch of five road games in six contests.
“It’s part of our progress here that you try to win in buildings where you haven’t won,” Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said. “It says something at where you are as far as building a team because this is usually the kind of mark that you try to meet as far as competitiveness and challenging and physical play.
“It’s just good for us to get this win.”
Defeating Ottawa (5-7-0) could be nearly as satisfying—and overdue. The Capitals are winless in eight home meetings with the Senators since the start of the 2001-02 season, with six losses and two ties over that span.
The games frequently haven’t even been close. Five of the six Ottawa victories were by three goals or more, and the Senators have outscored the Capitals 35-13 in their last eight visits to Washington.
This time, though, the Capitals face a slumping Ottawa club which appears vulnerable. The Senators are riding their second three-game losing streak of the young season after falling 3-2 at home Saturday to Carolina.
The Senators, who held a closed-door meeting after the defeat, had only one three-game losing skid in all of last season.
“I hope this is it,” forward Mike Fisher said. “We know we’ve got a good group of solid guys and we’re going to turn it around. We’re disappointed. We can’t hang our heads, we’ve got to look up and look at things we can do as a team.”
A lackluster power play has hurt the Senators all season. Ottawa has scored a league-low six power-play goals in 71 opportunities, and went 0-for-7 Saturday, squandering a two-man advantage for more than a minute in the third period.
“I would like to think we have the ammunition to do it,” Senators coach Bryan Murray said. “If we’re to have success, we need goals 5-on-3 and more often than not on the power play.”
The Senators held Ovechkin to one goal and one assist in four meetings in 2005-06, the rookie season for the Capitals’ star left wing.
This game opens a four-game road trip for Ottawa, which visits Southeast Division-leading Atlanta on Wednesday. The Senators have dropped their last two road games after beginning the season with three straight wins away from home.