|Offensively challenged Senators visit inconsistent Capitals|
WASHINGTON -- The slumping Ottawa Senators visit the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night looking to get more pucks on -- and hopefully in -- the net.
The Senators (8-5-6) have lost three straight games, scoring three goals in the process. In their most recent outing, they had a season-low 20 shots on goal in a 3-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday.
And having the extra man hasn't helped. Ottawa's power play went 0-for-3 and has failed to score in 11 chances during the past three games and is 2-for-21 in their past six. They are 2-3-1 in those games.
"As of right now, it's not going the way we want to," Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson said. "It's something we know and that we're trying to figure out. We're going to have to find a way here to sort that out as soon as possible."
After losing defensemen Chris Wideman and Mark Borowiecki to injuries, the Senators this week recalled top prospect Thomas Chabot, who may see time against the Capitals.
Despite their recent struggles, Boucher pointed out this week that the team is tracking similar to last season, when it finished 44-28-10 and won two playoff series before falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins in double overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Before facing the Rangers, the Senators were 8-4-6 (22 points). After 18 games a year ago, the Senators were 10-7-1 (21 points).
"If you have one more point a month until the end of the year, that's over 100 points. That's a lot of points," Boucher told the Ottawa Citizen. "We know we're not a team that's going to go from where we were last year to all of a sudden dominating."
After dominating opponents during the past two regular seasons, the Capitals (11-10-1) have fallen back to the pack.
Following two straight bad losses on the road, Washington returned home and posted an impressive 3-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild, only to take a step backward in Monday's 4-1 loss to the Calgary Flames that snapped a five-game home winning streak.
"We were hoping to build off that," Matt Niskanen said of the win over the Wild. "Saturday night was a good effort. Tonight was ... very blah.
"It's going to be tough sledding for us this year. We're going to have to really work to be consistent because it's not going to be easy for us."
Washington's only goal came from third-line center Lars Eller as several of Washington's top six forwards struggled at the offensive end.
Second-line winger Alex Ovechkin has gone six games without a goal, while top-line center Nicklas Backstrom has no goals and four assists in his last 15 games. Trotz has so far resisted the urge to reunite the former linemates.
Washington's power play went 0-for-3 against the Flames' league-worst penalty killers.
In addition, Eller said Washington is lacking energy in its five-on-five game.
"I know this team can bring a lot more than that, than what we've been showing. It's been a little bit of a theme for us lately," Eller said. "We continue like that, we're going to continue hovering around .500. We've got to play with a lot more determination. The playoff race is tight. It's November, but the playoff race is right now."
The Capitals should be aided by the fact they play seven of their next eight games at Capital One Arena. In November at home, Braden Holtby has recorded a 5-1-0 record, a 1.96 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage.
Holtby is 7-3-1 with a 2.08 GAA and a .932 save percentage versus Ottawa
Ovechkin has 26 goals and 17 assists versus Ottawa, including an opening night hat trick in a 5-4 victory Oct. 5.
Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson is 11-7-2, with a 2.39 GAA and a .922 save percentage against the Capitals.