After stumbling into the break, Caps look to pick up pace against Canucks

WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals returned from the All-Star break at the end of January looking better than the way they entered it, but still not great.

They snapped their seven-game losing streak last week with a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames — Alex Ovechkin was suspended from that game because he skipped the All-Star Game — but then they lost to the Boston Bruins on Sunday, 1-0.

The team that just a few weeks ago sat at the top of the Metropolitan Division is now tied for second with the Pittsburgh Penguins, behind former coach Barry Trotz’s New York Islanders. And they might be in real trouble if their offense doesn’t find a spark fast.

The Caps can start to pick up the pace Tuesday night with a home game against the Vancouver Canucks, who are sitting fourth in the Pacific Division.


What you need to know

What: Vancouver Canucks at Washington Capitals

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Tuesday, Feb. 5, 7 p.m. ET

TV/Streaming: NBC Sports Washington and you can live stream the game on NBC Sports Washington’s live stream page and on the MyTeams app.

3 things to know:

  1. Ovi’s still on top: Alex Ovechkin is still the NHL’s leading goal scorer with 37 goals on the season. But with his suspension last week against the Oilers and because he didn’t score against the Bruins on Sunday, Ovi hasn’t found the back of the net since before the All-Star break. Still, the last time the Caps and Canucks played back in October, Ovi netted two goals and had two assists.
  2. Caps have the advantage: Although Washington only plays the Canucks twice in the regular season, it has a 7-3 lead in the teams’ last 10 match-ups. Most recently, the Caps won on the road, 5-2, early in the season.
  3. Getting hot: The Canucks picked up some speed late in January and have won four of their last six games, stretching back to before the All-Star break. Rookie center Elias Pettersson is just 20 years old and leading Vancouver with 23 goals and 23 assists so far this season.

Quote of the day: “For our organization, for our team to do well, we need [Kuznetsov] at the top of his game,” general manager Brian MacLellan said Monday. “Depending on how you look at it, it was one or two, [Alex Ovechkin] and him for MVP last year in the playoffs. That’s why we did well because Kuznetsov played well. I think if he’s not going to play at that level, we’re not going to do as well. He’s that important to our team.”

Last time out: Washington beat the Canucks on the road, 5-2, on October 22. Along with Ovechkin’s two goals in that game, John Carlson added a goal and two assists, while Nicklas Backstrom had three assists. T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal too.

Stat to know: Through 37 games this season, goalie Braden Holtby has a 90.7 save percentage but is averaging 3.04 goals against.


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