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Staying out of the penalty box will be key for Wings

Friday, 11.15.2013 / 1:53 PM ET
By Bill Roose - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal
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The Wheel Deal

Alex Ovechkin
ALEX OVECHKIN
Right Wing  - WAS
Goals: 14 | Assists: 7 | Pts: 21
Shots: 100 | +/-: -10
DETROIT – Something the Red Wings can ill-afford to do tonight against the Washington Capitals? Wear out a path to the penalty box.

The Red Wings are among the three fewest penalized teams in the league, averaging 8.6 penalty minutes per game this season. And while they’ve killed off 24-of-25 penalties in the last seven games, the Red Wings don’t want to give the Capitals a reason to fire up their potent power-play machine.

The Capitals’ power play is led by the lethal combination of Alex Ovechkin and his offensive sidekick Nicklas Backstrom. With the season nearly the end of the first quarter, Ovechkin and Backstrom are 1-2 in the league in power-play points. Ovechkin leads the NHL with seven power-play goals, while Backstrom has compiled a league-best 11 power-play assists.

“He’s just a big man of super, super skill,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He can be physical but his ability to shoot the puck makes you so nervous. He’s a great skater. When he plays the off-side he pulls it in through your legs and shoots it through a screen all the time. When he’s playing the forehand side he does that outside-in move a fair bit. He finds a way to activate himself real well and get open. He hangs out high. If you give him any space at all he can kill you that way. He’s a guy who can play big minutes. He scores goals. It’s hard to score goals in the NHL.”

A three-time Maurice Richard Trophy winner as the NHL’s top goal scorer, Ovechkin is currently two goals shy of league-leader Alexander Steen (16) of the St. Louis Blues. He’s definitely a dangerous man, as the Wings know all too well. He has registered 12 points in eight career games against Detroit, including nine points on the power play.

“You’ve just got to minimize his space and time,” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “Obviously, he’s got a great shot and finds a way to always be open it seems. Playing with Backstrom, too, he’s a really good disher. You’ve just got to be aware of them whenever they’re out there and try to have the puck as much as possible.”

Since returning from an upper-body injury 10 days ago, Ovechkin has four goals and two assists in five games. He’s heating up and looking forward to facing the Red Wings.

“A great team, a great organization,” Ovechkin said. “It’s always fun to play against those kinds of teams, especially with those players.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 49 36 9 4 161 110 76
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
4 NYR 51 28 18 5 146 132 61
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 NYI 49 26 17 6 134 121 58
7 DET 51 25 18 8 125 130 58
8 NJD 52 26 20 6 117 118 58
9 PIT 50 25 18 7 129 128 57
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 49 23 18 8 117 128 54
12 MTL 52 24 24 4 137 141 52
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 50 17 18 23 35
H. Zetterberg 51 9 25 2 34
T. Tatar 50 14 16 -3 30
G. Nyquist 51 14 13 -4 27
J. Abdelkader 51 14 12 -4 26
P. Datsyuk 36 6 18 10 24
M. Green 45 3 17 -8 20
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
D. DeKeyser 47 6 8 10 14
R. Sheahan 50 7 6 -15 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 18 10 4 .931 2.06
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89