Preview: Capitals at Avalanche
Washington looks to extend lead in Metropolitan; Colorado aims to avoid seventh straight loss
by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com Correspondent
CAPITALS (50-17-8) at AVALANCHE (20-52-3)
TV: 10 p.m. ET; ALT, CSN-DC, NHL.TV
Capitals team scope
The Washington Capitals will try to extend their lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Metropolitan Division, Eastern Division and Presidents' Trophy races. The Capitals are three points ahead of the Blue Jackets; each have seven games remaining. "The importance of the games -- especially at this time of year with where we are and what we want to do -- I don't think I have to say a whole heck of a lot," coach Barry Trotz told the Capitals website. Washington has won five consecutive games, is 6-0-1 in their past seven and opened a five-game road trip Tuesday with a 5-4 overtime win at the Minnesota Wild. Goalie Braden Holtby has started eight consecutive games, but Philipp Grubauer could play Wednesday in the second game of a back-to-back set. Grubauer made 18 saves in a 3-0 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 18 for the first of his three NHL shutouts. "Colorado probably hasn't had the year that they wanted or predicted, but they're going to be dangerous," Trotz said. "Every team on this trip is going to be dangerous, and they're going to need points." Holtby has posted 40 wins in three consecutive seasons, joining Martin Brodeur and Evgeni Nabokov as the only goalies in NHL history to do so. Forward Alex Ovechkin had four points (three goals, one assist) against the Wild and passed Johnny Bucyk for 26th place on the League's all-time goal list with 558. He needs two goals to tie Guy Lafleur (560) for 25th.
Avalanche team scope
Colorado Avalanche coach Jared Bednar will keep forward Matt Duchene at right wing on a line with left wing Gabriel Landeskog and rookie center J.T. Compher when the Avalanche hope to avoid losing their seventh straight game. Bednar used the line in the third period Monday in a 4-2 loss to the Calgary Flames. "They were dangerous, had a couple good looks to the net and made some plays," Bednar said. Duchene leads the Avalanche with 17 goals, but he has one in the past 18 games. "Our message to Matt lately is you can't control what's happened in the first (75) games," Bednar said. "Just break it down one game at a time and try to be at your best tonight and be dangerous and make sure we're not cheating to the offensive side of things, narrowing his focus and not worrying about how the season has gone." The Avalanche have been outscored 30-13 in a six-game losing streak. They are 1-for-21 on the power plays in their past eight games. "If you can't get up for the Washington Capitals, you have some issues, especially at home," Landeskog said. "We have to see it as a fun challenge. We know what the standings look like, but it's a fun test."
Capitals projected lineup
Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Justin Williams
Brett Connolly -- Lars Eller -- Andre Burakovsky
Daniel Winnik -- Jay Beagle -- Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner -- John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik -- Kevin Shattenkirk
Scratched: Paul Carey, Taylor Chorney, Nate Schmidt
Avalanche projected lineup
Sven Andrighetto -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen
Gabriel Landeskog -- J.T. Compher -- Matt Duchene
Matt Nieto -- Mikhail Grigorenko -- Rene Bourque
John Mitchell -- Carl Soderberg -- Blake Comeau
Mark Barberio -- Erik Johnson
Fedor Tyutin -- Tyson Barrie
Francois Beauchemin -- Anton Lindholm
Scratched: Joe Colborne, Cody Goloubef, Patrick Wiercioch
Pickard will start for the third consecutive game and 12th time in the past 15. … The Capitals did not hold a morning skate Wednesday.
Ovechkin has five points (four goals, one assist) in his past two games, and 11 points (six goals, five assists) in his past eight games. … Backstrom has 15 points (one goal, 14 assists) in his past eight games. … Oshie has eight points (six goals, two assists) in his past five games. … Andrighetto has four points (three goals, one assist) in a three-game point streak, and six points (four goals, two assists) in his past six games.