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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 25th (All times Eastern)
Washington Capitals (22-21-8) at Montreal Canadiens (27-19-5), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens will both be looking to snap losing streaks on Saturday night as the two clubs wrap up games on back-to-back nights with a meeting at the Bell Centre.
The Capitals are in the midst of a seven-game skid, dropping the last five in regulation. That has Washington now four points back of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
Montreal is on a less-damaging three-game slide and also has lost six of its past nine. That has left the Canadiens tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division and six points behind the co-leading Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Washington has played its last two games without the NHL's goal-scoring leader, Alex Ovechkin. The winger has 35 goals on the season and is battling a lower-body injury.
The Capitals were shut out 2-0 by Ottawa in their first game without Ovechkin on Tuesday, then dropped a 2-1 decision to the hosting New Jersey Devils to begin a five-game trip on Friday night.
Jason Chimera provided the lone offense for the Capitals, but it didn't come until there was 9:50 left in the game. Washington has been held to one goal or fewer six times over its losing streak and is just 1-for-24 on the power play in the last eight games.
Michael Neuvirth played well in defeat, making 28 saves, but the Caps failed to take advantage of the chances they had.
"We had three short-handed breakaways and we didn't score," Caps coach Adam Oates lamented. "(Devils goaltender Cory Schneider) held them in and made the saves when he needed to. We made saves, too. You need execution, and the mistakes are not blatant, but it's still the NHL and you get burned."
Washington, on its longest losing streak since an 0-6-2 drought from Dec. 2-18, 2010, also lost center Mikhail Grabovski to a lower-body injury during the second period and he did not return. His status for this game, as well as Ovechkin's, is unknown.
Montreal is set to play two straight and six of its next seven at home after getting outscored 14-5 in losing the final three contests of a four-game road trip. The Canadiens capped the swing last night with a 4-1 setback in Detroit.
Brendan Gallagher picked up the lone goal for the Canadiens, but Carey Price made just 22 saves in the setback.
"Everyone is still confident in each other, it's just a matter of getting to little details of the game and once you do that, the wins will start to come," Gallagher said
Montreal is on its longest losing streak since dropping a season-high four in a row from Nov. 1-7 and saw Alexei Emelin depart in the latter stages of the third period on Friday night after getting hit by a shot.
Things don't get any easier for the Habs in the opener of this residency as they have lost six in a row and nine of their last 12 at home to the Capitals.
The clubs split two meetings earlier this season in Washington, with the Caps winning their game in a shootout, and the Canadiens have lost nine of their last 11 overall in this series.
01/25 10:24:24 ET