Red Wings aim for home-and-home sweep of struggling Caps
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Red Wings will try to complete a home-and- home sweep of the struggling Washington Capitals when the teams meet for Sunday's finale in D.C.
The Red Wings opened this two-game series with Friday's 4-3 shootout win in Detroit. It was Washington's ninth loss in 11 games, although the Capitals were glad to get a point thanks to Alex Ovechkin's game-tying goal with seven seconds left in regulation.
Patrick Eaves scored in the seventh round of the shootout to help Detroit earn two points despite surrendering the late goal to Ovechkin. The first six shooters on either side failed to find the net before Eaves buried a wrister into the left corner in the seventh round. Jay Beagle was then stopped by Jimmy Howard for the win.
"He has a lot of confidence as a player and always likes to help the team no matter what role he is in," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock about Eaves. "Tonight he came through for us and he's felling really good right now."
Gustav Nyquist, Drew Miller and Danny DeKeyser all scored in regulation for the Red Wings, while Howard stopped 26 shots through 65 minutes in the win.
Ovechkin and Jason Chimera each posted a goal and an assist in the second straight loss for the Capitals. Michal Neuvirth stopped 42 shots in the setback, which came one night after Washington dropped a 5-2 decision in Columbus.
"We played a hard-fought game last night and they were resting," said Washington head coach Adam Oates. "We came in here and played a good game and got a point out of it. Their goalie just played better."
The Capitals are expected to face Howard again on Sunday. He is 2-1-1 with a 2.89 goals against average in four career outings against Washington.
Despite Washington's recent struggles, Ovechkin has scored seven times over his last eight games and he is leading the NHL with 39 goals. Ovechkin's next goal will give him 40 or more in a season for the sixth time in his career and for the first time since he posted 50 in 2009-10.
The 28-year-old Russian has nine goals and six assists in 10 career games against the Red Wings.
Detroit is 4-1-1 over its last six games and enters Sunday one point out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Philadelphia Flyers, who are idle on Sunday, currently hold the East's eighth and final postseason berth with 60 points. The Capitals are trailing the Red Wings by just two points in the East standings.
The Red Wings expect to play a 13th straight game without star forward Pavel Datsyuk, who is battling an unspecified lower-body injury.
Detroit winger Johan Franzen will miss today's test with a concussion as he isn't eligible to come off injured reserve until Monday. Franzen has missed two straight and 18 of the last 19 games due to head injuries.
Washington defenseman Mike Green sat out Friday's tilt with an upper-body injury and he could be suffering from a concussion. Caps forward Mikhail Grabovski has missed the last four games with a sprained left ankle and, like Green, he isn't expected to be in the lineup on Sunday.
Caps forward Brooks Laich could also miss today's tilt after sitting out much of the third period on Friday due to groin tightness.
Washington had won three straight in the series against the Red Wings prior to Friday's loss. Detroit can halt a three-game road losing streak in D.C. with a victory this afternoon.
02/02 10:22:18 ET