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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, December 21st (All times Eastern)
New Jersey Devils (14-15-7) at Washington Capitals (19-13-3), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Alex Ovechkin reached an impressive career milestone in a road win on Friday and he'll try to lead the Washington Capitals to a second straight victory when they host the New Jersey Devils in Saturday's clash at Verizon Center.
Washington had lost two of three heading into Friday's away game against the Carolina Hurricanes, but the Capitals earned a 4-2 decision by going 3-for-4 on the power play.
The only goal that didn't come on the man advantage for the Caps on Friday was Ovechkin's empty-netter with 25 seconds left. The insurance tally was the 400th goal of Ovechkin's career and the Russian sniper became the sixth- fastest to reach that mark in NHL history. Ovechkin was playing in his 634th NHL game, meaning only Wayne Gretzky (436 games), Mike Bossy (506 games), Mario Lemieux (508 games), Brett Hull (520 games) and Jari Kurri (608 games) reached the 400-goal mark quicker.
Ovechkin is leading the NHL with 29 goals this season and he has recorded 13 markers and 34 points in 29 career games against the Devils.
Nicklas Backstrom collected four assists for the Capitals, who got a 39-save performance from Philipp Grubauer. Marcus Johansson, John Carlson and Troy Brouwer all scored power-play goals in Friday's win.
"We did some good things to earn the power plays and that can't get overlooked," said Washington head coach Adam Oates. "Yeah, we lived off the power play, but we also had zone time to earn those power plays."
Washington is ranked second in the NHL in power-play efficiency, scoring on 26.3 percent of its opportunities with the man advantage. Only Pittsburgh (26.8 percent) has a better power-play unit this season.
This evening's matchup is the first of four scheduled meetings between the Devils and Capitals this season. It's also the first encounter for the teams as members of the Metropolitan Division, which was created for this season's realignment plan.
The Devils won two of three against Washington last season, but the Caps took the last encounter by a 5-1 score when the clubs met in D.C. on Feb. 23. New Jersey has taken six of the last 10 overall encounters in this series, but the Capitals have won four of seven and five of the last nine at the Verizon Center.
New Jersey had a two-game win streak snapped on Friday, as it lost a 3-2 overtime decision against the visiting Anaheim Ducks. Kyle Palmieri, who grew up in New Jersey, potted the game-winner 2:37 into overtime to lift the Ducks to the close win at Prudential Center.
Andy Greene and Michael Ryder scored a goal apiece for the Devils, while Cory Schneider allowed all three goals on 24 shots in the loss.
"We wanted that second point, we really did," Greene said. "We have to forget about it now and just get ready for Washington tomorrow."
New Jersey has struggled on the road this season, going 7-10-3 away from the Garden State. Washington, meanwhile, has a stout 12-7-0 mark in D.C.
Devils forward Damien Brunner suffered a right knee injury in Friday's loss and is questionable for tonight's game.
12/21 11:01:42 ET
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