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Capitals-Red Wings Preview

Monday, 12.17.2007 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

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Capitals-Red Wings Preview
Washington Capitals vs. Detroit Red Wings

It's been a long time since the Detroit Red Wings lost a home game to an Eastern Conference opponent. Then again, they don't lose too often to anyone these days.

Detroit will look to improve upon its NHL-best 14-2-1 mark at home Monday when it faces off against the Washington Capitals.

The Red Wings (23-6-3) have not lost at Joe Louis Arena to a team from the Eastern Conference since March 11, when they fell 6-3 to Boston.

This season, they have made most everything look easy. Detroit already has two winning streaks of at least seven games, and aside from a two-week stretch in mid-November when they went 2-4-1, the Red Wings are 21-2-2, including their current 8-0-2 stretch.

Their six-game home winning streak was snapped on Thursday with a 4-3 shootout loss to Edmonton, but Detroit rebounded nicely on Saturday, scoring three power-play goals on its way to a 5-2 win over Florida.

"I think when the other team gets off the flight, they've got to know that there's no chance for points," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told the team's official Web site. "That's how we want to be at home. We want to be dominant."

The Red Wings' dominance has been due primarily to the offensive prowess of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Zetterberg's 45 points rank third in the NHL, and Datsyuk - who has at least one point in 10 of his last 11 games - isn't far behind with 13 goals and 25 assists.

While Detroit's 109 goals scored lead the NHL, they've also given up a league-low 70. Goaltender Chris Osgood has compiled a 15-1-1 record in 17 starts - his 1.76 goals-against average is by far the best in the league and his .929 save percentage ranks second behind Boston's Tim Thomas.

Washington (13-18-2) owns the fewest points in the Eastern Conference but has played better of late, winning four of its last five and going 7-4-1 in its last 12 games.

The Caps have also proven capable of beating top competition in any given night. They stopped East-leading Ottawa's eight-game winning streak on Nov. 8, then ended New Jersey's 10-game stretch without a regulation loss on Dec. 10.

The Capitals' 5-3 loss to Buffalo on Friday ended their three-game winning streak, but they won 3-2 at Tampa Bay the following night.

Defenseman Brian Pothier scored the game-winner early in the third period against the Lightning after having been a healthy scratch for Washington's two previous games.

"It was enormous," Pothier told the Capitals' official Web site. "We know good teams don't lose two in a row. We're playing a great team on Monday and we wanted to set the tone for that game and carry it into (Detroit)."

Washington's scoring attack is paced by forward Alex Ovechkin, who leads the team with 23 goals and 38 points. Ovechkin had 46 goals and 92 points last season, but had additional help from a 30-goal scorers Alexander Semin and Chris Clark. Both Semin and Clark have been bothered by injuries this season, and they have just seven goals in 33 combined games.

No Capitals player other than Ovechkin has more than eight goals, and Saturday's victory was the first for Washington this season when Ovechkin failed to record a point.

The Capitals haven't played in Detroit since they won 4-1 on Nov. 24, 2003.

2007-2008 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Dec 17 '07WSH 3 at DET 4 - SOH. Zetterberg
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%

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