The Capitals try to snap a three-game losing streak Sunday when they look to extend their home point streak against the Ottawa Senators to 10 games.
The league leader with 3.8 goals per game last season, Washington (24-14-7) is averaging 2.8 in 2010-11. During their current 4-2-3 stretch, the Capitals are scoring 2.1 per game and have not reached four goals in any of those contests. It is the longest such run for Washington since the final nine games of the 2006-07 season.
“We’re not telling them to sit back. We’re not telling them to not shoot the puck and go to the net,” coach Bruce Boudreau said following Friday’s 4-2 home loss to NHL-best Vancouver. “Every coach in every league will say the same thing. When you’re having a struggle scoring goals, the only way you get out of it is you shoot the puck and you go to the net.”
The Senators (17-22-6) could benefit from the same approach. Ottawa has scored more than three goals just twice since Nov. 9, and it has found the back of the net just 15 times during a 1-5-2 skid.
Despite the struggles, the Senators enter Sunday’s game on a somewhat positive note after scoring twice in the third period of Friday’s 3-2 loss to Calgary.
“I thought we played a pretty good game,” said Milan Michalek(notes), who scored with 57.4 seconds remaining after teammate Nick Foligno(notes) tallied a goal for the second straight game earlier in the period. “… Going into the third we were losing 3-0 so it was hard to come back, but we worked hard and we almost came back.”
The Senators, though, need to work on a power play that is 0 for 14 over the last four games. Ottawa, 1-6-2 in Washington since a 5-2 victory on March 12, 2006, went 0 for 5 with the man advantage in each of its two losses to the Capitals this season.
In the teams’ last matchup Dec. 19, Washington erased a 2-0 first-period deficit and snapped a season-high eight-game skid with a 3-2 victory in Ottawa.
Michal Neuvirth(notes), who made 24 saves in that win, will likely be in net after Semyon Varlamov(notes) suffered his second straight defeat Friday. Neuvirth is 2-0-0 with a 1.93 goals-against average against the Senators this season, also turning away 29 shots in a 3-2 overtime home win Oct. 11.
Coach Cory Clouston will likely have Brian Elliott(notes) in net and Mike Brodeur(notes) as the backup after the team sent 19-year-old rookie Robin Lehner(notes) to AHL Binghamton on Saturday. After Lehner earned his first NHL victory and help the Senators end a season-worst six-game slide with Thursday’s 6-4 win at the New York Islanders, Elliott stopped 23 shots versus the Flames to fall to 0-5-2 with a 3.83 GAA in his last seven starts.
Elliott was 4-0-0 lifetime against Washington prior to making 31 saves in last month’s loss.
The Capitals could be without leading goal scorer Alexander Semin(notes) (lower-body injury) for a fourth consecutive game, while winger Eric Fehr(notes) is out with an upper-body injury suffered Friday. Fehr had a goal and an assist in each of the two victories against Ottawa this season.