The Capitals (10-3-0, 20 points) will look to extend their win streak to three games when they visit the Detroit Red Wings (7-6-1, 15 points), who have won three of their last four tonight at Joe Louis Arena (7:30 p.m.,, CSN+). Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:
Russian knight: While the Red Wings honor Sergei Fedorov’s induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Alex Ovechkin is one goal away from eclipsing Fedorov’s record for goals by a Russian-born player. Fedorov scored 483 goals in 1,248 NHL games. Ovechkin reached 483 goals in his 772nd game.
Capitals right wing Justin Williams said Fedorov and Wayne Gretzky were his two favorite players growing up and now he’s learning first-hand what Ovechkin brings to the table. Ovechkin has earned a point in 11 of his 12 games this season (8 goals, 8 assists).
“There are very, very few game-breakers, if any, other than Ovi, in the game today,” Williams said, “and I think the elation he shows for his teammates when they score tells you what kind of guy he is. It tells me he’s a team guy.”
Capitals coach Barry Trotz agrees.
“I look at his whole body of work and when the game is on the line there’s a certain thing where he wants to take over the game,” Trotz said. “Very few people in this league can do it and he has it. I’m fortunate he’s on our team.”
Beagle in question: Center Jay Beagle tweaked an earlier injury and is expected to be a game-time decision. If he can’t play, look for center Michael Latta to take his place on the third line.
Fun in Motown: The Capitals are 6-1-1 in their last eight visits to Detroit, outscoring the Red Wings 31-21. They have won each of their last two visits by 2-1 scores. Moreover, the Caps have earned a point in 20 straight games against Atlantic Division foes (17-0-3) and have outscored opponents 62-32 during that span.
Caps goaltender Braden Holtby is 3-0-0 in his career at Detroit, with a 2.28 goals against average and a .934 save percentage. Alex Ovechkin has 17 points (9 goals, 8 assists) in 17 career games against the Red Wings. Defenseman John Carlson has nine points (3 goals, 6 assists) in nine career games against Detroit.
The Caps and Wings face off again on Nov. 18 in the Motor City, then at Verizon Center on Dec. 8.
Fast starters: The Caps’ 10-3-0 start matches their best in franchise history. They also went 10-3-0 to start the 1991-92 season. The Caps lead the NHL in shots against per game (25.2) this season and rank fourth in goals per game (3.23).
Big finishers: Nicklas Backstrom’s game-tying goal with 0.8 seconds remaining in regulation was the latest game-tying goal in the NHL since Canadiens forward David Desharnais also scored at 19:59 on March 15, 2014 vs. Ottawa. Backstrom is the first
Capitals player to score a game-tying goal with one second left in regulation since Ovechkin did it on Nov. 15, 2008 at New Jersey, a game the Caps lost 6-5 in a shootout.
Since Backstrom entered the NHL in 2007-08, he has earned an assist on 174 of Ovechkin’s 385 goals (45.2 percent). Since he entered the NHL in 2007-08, Backstrom ranks third in the league in assists (432), trailing Henrik Sedin (480) and Joe Thornton (460).
Chasing Martin: While Ovechkin looks to become the NHL’s top goal-scoring Russian in NHL history, Trotz is just one win away from tying Jacques Martin for 12th on the NHL’s all-time coaching wins list. Martin has 613 NHL coaching victories. Trotz has 612. Speaking of milestones, John Carlson is one point away from tying Rod Langway (202) for eighth place on the Capitals’ list of points by a defenseman.
On the road again: The Caps are playing their sixth road game of the season tonight. They are 4-1-0 on the road, outscoring opponents 20-14. Evgeny Kuznetsov has 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in five games on the road this season, including his first career hat trick at Edmonton on Oct. 23. Alex Ovechkin has 3 goals and 5 assists in five games. The Caps’ mini road trip continues in Philadelphia on Thursday night.
TKO Line: The Caps’ top line of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie has combined for 39 points this season (17 goals, 22 assists). The line ranks tied for fourth in the NHL in points, trailing Dallas’ Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza (56), Chicago’s Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov (47) and Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher (43).
Projected lineups for tonight:
Injured: Jay Beagle (undisclosed, game-time)
Scratches: Taylor Chorney
Scratches: Brendan Smith
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