The Washington Capitals look to extend their season-opening point streak to six games when they visit the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.
The Capitals continue to ride the hot hands of linemates Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Ovechkin has five goals and five assists, while Kuznetsov has four goals and five assists.
“I think he’s in really good shape. His mindset is in the right direction,” Ovechkin said of Kuznetsov, who struggled the past two seasons. “It’s kind of fun to play with him. It’s fun to see his smile, fun to see what he can do on the ice.”
Washington was forced to play from behind for the first time this season Saturday when the Calgary Flames took a 3-0 lead after one period.
Kuznetsov made it 3-1 with a steal and short-handed goal and Ovechkin tied it later in the second period before the Flames eventually won it in overtime.
“Just couldn’t get it done,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “That’s what burns about it, just the one point that got away.”
Vitek Vanecek was lifted after one period and Ilya Samsonov stopped 13 of 14 shots.
One area the Capitals need to improve is their power play, which is 0-for-14 over the past four games while allowing two short-handed goals.
“We had the meeting, we talk and we try to put some effort, more fight for this puck,” Kuznetsov said after Washington went 0-for-4 against Calgary. “It’s just not going in for now. But we have to still work and still believe in each other.”
Capitals checking-line center Nic Dowd missed Sunday’s practice and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
The Senators, who have lost two straight as they close a four-game homestand, appeared on the verge of defeating the visiting Rangers on Saturday before things went awry, beginning with losing goaltender Matt Murray.
Leading 2-0, Murray was hit in the head by New York’s Chris Kreider as the Rangers scored their first goal with 5:23 left to play. Murray was replaced by Anton Forsberg and the Rangers scored two late goals to win it.
“Really tough,” Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said. “(Forsberg) sat there all day and then six minutes to go, you’re going in there freezing cold. … You’ve got to be more desperate at the end of the game and then certainly with a goalie that hasn’t seen a shot all night.”
Nick Paul and Josh Norris scored for the Senators. Paul was shifted to center on a line with Connor Brown and Tim Stutzle in the absence of the injured Shane Pinto and scored on his first shift.
“They make great plays, they’re fast. They move to open space,” Paul said of Brown and Stutzle. “I thought the chemistry was nice and we had a lot of good chances.”
Pinto is expected to be out at least a week with an upper-body injury.
Ottawa is averaging just two goals per game over its first five.
Murray was placed on the injured reserve list Sunday and Ottawa recalled goaltender Filip Gustavsson from the Belleville Senators of the American Hockey League.
Forsberg is 2-1-0 with a 3.02 goals-against average in three games against Washington.
Smith said Sunday the Senators were ready to move on from Saturday’s loss.
“It just so happens the next team is one of the best teams in the league,” Smith said. “It’s a team that’s coming in that’s ready to win now and it’s going to be a real test for us. We’re gonna have to check and we’re gonna have to play the right way.”
–Field Level Media