December 21, 2014

With perhaps his best chance to earn the one achievement that's eluded him his entire career, Alex Ovechkin can first attain yet another remarkable individual accomplishment.

Ovechkin goes for goal No. 500 when the powerful Capitals return to Verizon Center in search of a 10th consecutive home win Sunday night against the Ottawa Senators.

After registering his 498th goal in Saturday's first period, Ovechkin moved within one of becoming the 43rd player to reach the milestone by rushing the length of the ice and scoring 1:25 into overtime in a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers. It's the seventh goal in seven games for the five-time Rocket Richard Trophy recipient, whose 24 this season are one off the league lead.

''To be honest, I didn't think about it," he said of nearing 500. "I'll probably think about it (Sunday) before the game. Right now, it's a huge comeback for us. When it happens, it happens.''

Ovechkin will have two chances to record the mark at Verizon Center, where Washington (30-7-3) hasn't lost since Nov. 19. The Capitals, who haven't won 10 in a row at home in a single season since a 13-game run Jan. 5-March 6, 2010, host Vancouver on Thursday.

The Capitals come home off a 3-0-2 trip that followed a nine-game winning streak. They're 19-2-2 since Nov. 21 and have amassed a league-leading 65 points, adding to the notion that this could be the best opportunity in Ovechkin's 11 seasons to capture a Stanley Cup.

Ovechkin has just one goal in his last six meetings with Ottawa (20-16-6), which held Boston's potent offense in check in Saturday's 2-1 overtime victory. The Senators have won two of three, including a 3-2 victory Monday at St. Louis that halted a 0-6-1 road skid that contained a 2-1 defeat to the Capitals on Dec. 16.

The Senators have had trouble producing goals of late, managing just seven over their last five outings, but got one late in overtime from Mark Stone to support Craig Anderson's 33 saves.

''It's about momentum,'' coach Dave Cameron said. ''You get a win, you play well and you get rewarded for playing well. It certainly should put you in a good mindset going in against the best team in the East. We're going to have our hands full (Sunday) night.''

Ottawa's challenge becomes more difficult if Braden Holtby is in goal for a second straight day. The NHL's leader in wins (27) made 23 saves against the Rangers for his 22nd consecutive start without a regulation loss. He's 19-0-2 with a 1.89 goals-against average since a 1-0 defeat at Detroit on Nov. 10.

Holtby has been especially dominant at home, where he's 11-0-0 with a 1.81 GAA over his past 12 starts. He stopped 26 shots against the Senators last month.

Washington, second in the NHL with 130 goals, won't have Marcus Johansson available as he finishes serving a two-game suspension for Thursday's illegal check on the Islanders' Thomas Hickey. There's still plenty of firepower on hand, though, with Ovechkin rolling and Nicklas Backstrom having recorded three goals and three assists over a five-game point streak.

The Capitals also sport the league's second-best power play at 25.6 percent. Ottawa ranks 28th on the penalty kill but has yielded only one power-play goal over its last four.

With the Senators also playing a back-to-back, Andrew Hammond could draw a second start against Washington this season. He returned from a concussion to make 23 saves in last month's matchup.

The Capitals are 3-0-1 in their last four against Ottawa after losing seven straight in the series.

You May Like