Last 10: Ottawa 3-5-2; Washington 5-2-3
Season series: Third of four meetings this season. The Capitals have taken the first two matchups by 3-2 scores, Alex Ovechkin lighting the lamp with 31.1 seconds remaining in overtime on Oct. 11 in Washington, and Mathieu Perreault netting a pair of goals as they rallied from a two-goal deficit to win on Dec. 19 in Ottawa.
Big story: When the Capitals defeated the Penguins 3-1 in the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, it looked like they righted the ship following an eight-game losing streak that marred their December. But tough times have returned to the nation's capital, as Washington has won only once in five games since returning indoors.
Senators: A strong third period for Ottawa wasn't enough on Friday as visiting Calgary stormed to a three-goal lead after 40 minutes and held on to deal the Senators a 3-2 setback. David Moss scored twice in a 2:23 span and Ales Kotalik's power-play goal with 16.2 seconds left in the middle period turned out to be the winner for the Flames. Nick Foligno got the Senators on the board 8:56 into the third and Milan Michalek made it close by scoring with 57.4 seconds to play.
"I thought we played a pretty good game," Michalek said. "We made some mistakes in the second period and that cost us the game. Going into the third, we were losing 3-0 so it was hard to come back, but we worked hard and we almost came back."
Capitals: Since the Winter Classic, Washington has gone 1-1-2 within its division against Tampa Bay and Florida, then fell 4-2 on Friday at the hands of Vancouver, the team looking to succeed the Capitals as Presidents' Trophy winners. Matt Hendricks opened the scoring for the home team, but the Canucks put up the next three goals before Marcus Johansson tallied midway through the third. Daniel Sedin ended their comeback hopes with an empty-netter.
"The third period we played great," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We played with passion. Granted, it was (the Canucks') second game in two nights and they were probably a little tired. But you could see the passion in the game. In the first two periods we were playing not to lose, cautiously trying to do the right things but not creating any opportunities."
Who's hot: Foligno and Michalek each have goals in consecutive games for the Senators … Capitals goalie Semyon Varlamov is 4-2-1 with a .948 save percentage over his last seven starts.
Injury report: Ottawa goalie Pascal Leclaire (lower body) and forward Jason Spezza (shoulder) are out indefinitely, while forward Alex Kovalev is out with a knee injury … Washington forward Alexander Semin is day-to-day with a hip injury. Defenseman Tom Poti is out with a lower-body injury. Forwards DJ King (undisclosed) and Matt Bradley (broken finger) are on injured reserve.
Stat pack:Brian Elliott won his first four career decisions against the Capitals before getting the loss in the Dec. 19 meeting. He'll start in Washington today … Ovechkin has five goals and 11 points during a seven-game point streak against the Senators.
Puck drop: The league's most potent offence last season at 3.8 goals per game, Washington is averaging a full goal less this season.
"We're not telling them to sit back. We're not telling them to not shoot the puck and go to the net," Boudreau said following Friday's loss. "Every coach in every league will say the same thing. When you're having a struggle scoring goals, the only way you get out of it is you shoot the puck and you go to the net."