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Alex Ovechkin, Caps look to extend streaks vs. Predators

Jan 5, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA;  Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates the goal scored by right wing T.J. Oshie (77) in the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the third period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals will try to extend a nine-game point streak when they host the Nashville Predators on Friday.

Both teams are coming off victories and traveling for the second game of a back-to-back set.

Washington defeated the host Columbus Blue Jackets 6-2 on Thursday, while Nashville rallied past the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3 in Raleigh, N.C.

T.J. Oshie scored twice at Columbus for the Capitals. Dylan Strome had a trio of assists, and Evgeny Kuznetsov had two helpers.

Washington killed off Columbus’ only power play of the night in the second period, and the Capitals later scored the game’s final four goals, the last two on power plays.

“A lot of times, that special teams can kind of kick you into gear,” Oshie said after the win. “I think the PK did there and we scored a couple right after, so hats off to them. … Good special teams night.”

Washington star Alex Ovechkin scored his 809th career goal in the victory as he continues the chase for Wayne Gretzky all-time mark of 894. Ovechkin has seven goals during a four-game goal streak and nine in his past six contests. Ovechkin was also one of the initial players named to the 2023 NHL All-Star Game on Thursday evening.

Ovechkin increased his season total to 29 goals, which ranks third in the league behind the 33 of the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid and the 30 of the Buffalo Sabres’ Tage Thompson.

The Blue Jackets game also featured one of the oddest goals of the season. Strome took a second-period wrist shot that ricocheted off teammate Martin Fehervary’s helmet and went into the net to give the Capitals the lead for good at 3-2.

“Listen, they play soccer before the game all the time, so they must be working on that stuff,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said.

Nashville got past Carolina on Thursday thanks to a stellar effort from goalie Juuse Saros on the night he also was named an NHL All-Star.

Saros made a franchise-record 64 saves for the Predators in a game that they won despite getting outshot 67-25. Carolina had more shots on goal in the third period, 28, than Nashville had the entire game.

“I mean, I was just trying to see the puck as well as I could,” Saros said. “It’s a great team and they threw a lot of pucks, just trying to stay with it.”

Saros’ effort was backed up by goals from five different players plus a pair of assists from Juuso Parssinen.

Understandably, Saros likely will get the night off against Washington, meaning the Predators would turn to Kevin Lankinen in goal. Lankinen has a 3-4-1 record with a 2.91 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage in nine games (eight starts).

Lankinen last played on New Year’s Eve in a 5-4 overtime loss to the host Vegas Golden Knights.

Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper stopped 25 shots in the win Thursday. He likely will give way on Friday to Charlie Lindgren, who has an 11-4-2 record with a 2.57 GAA and a .914 save percentage in 18 games (16 starts).

–Field Level Media