Skidding Coyotes visit rolling Capitals

Field Level Media

The Washington Capitals are one of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League. They have won six in a row and gone 10-0-1 in their last 11 games and will try to continue that streak when the Arizona Coyotes visit on Monday night.

Washington earned its sixth straight win on Saturday with a 5-2 victory over Vegas, in a rematch of the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals. Nicklas Backstrom scored a pair of third-period goals that broke the game open, including an empty-netter that sealed it in the final minute, while Evgeny Kuznetsov added a goal and an assist.

The Capitals have not lost a game in regulation since Oct. 14, a 6-3 defeat to Colorado at home. They lead the NHL in goals (74) and points (29).

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"I think we're working together as a team," Backstrom said to NHL.com. "We're doing all the details right. We're trying to follow the system that the coaches want us to play. I feel like when you have confidence like we have ... we're just trying to keep going and get better every day. So far, so good."

On the injury front, left winger Carl Hagelin was held out of the Vegas game with an upper-body injury. Center Nic Dowd stepped in for him after missing three games due to a lower-body injury. Hagelin was listed as day-to-day.

Defenseman John Carlson remains red hot after having two assists Saturday. He now has eight goals and a league-high 20 assists for 28 points, tied for third overall in the NHL entering Sunday.

Carlson also has 333 career assists and 431 points, moving past long-time Capital Scott Stevens (331, 429) for the No. 2 spot in assists and points by a defenseman in team history.

Goalie Braden Holtby earned the victory and now is 7-0-1 in his last eight games. Holtby started slowly this season but has played much better after his early woes.

Arizona, meanwhile, is on its first slide of the season. The Coyotes have dropped three in a row, including a 4-3 loss to Minnesota at home on Saturday.

In that game, Arizona held leads of 2-0 and 3-1 but could not hang on. Michael Grabner, Jakob Chychrun and Vinnie Hinostroza each scored a goal for the Coyotes in the loss.

That dropped Arizona to 0-2-1 during the winless skid, and coach Rick Tocchet said his team simply must work harder.

"We've got to buckle down here," Tocchet told NHL.com. "We're in control of the game, and we just give them life. It's an unfocused play here or there, and some individuals have to play better."

The Coyotes are also slumping on the power play. They went 0-for-3 in Saturday's loss and have now gone without a man-advantage goal in 15 straight tries and 18 of their last 19 chances.

Monday opens a difficult week for Arizona, which has back-to-back road games against the last two Stanley Cup champions. After Monday's game in Washington, the Coyotes head to St. Louis for a game on Tuesday with the defending champion Blues. The three-game trip wraps on Thursday at Minnesota.

--Field Level Media

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