Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Washington Capitals at Ottawa Senators

With a win finally in the bag, what can the Caps do for an encore?

Well, a first road win tonight in Ottawa would be great, especially since it would constitute the start of a winning streak. Getting closer to the top than the bottom of the Southeast division would also be nice.

Now that Alex Ovechkin is off the schneid and cozily settled back at left wing, maybe someone can figure out how to get Nicklas Backstrom (0 goals, 2 points) going. Not sure a change of position is going to do the same thing for him.

And it remains to be seen if the Capitals have really turned over a new leaf on the discipline front. Washington took just two minor penalties Sunday against Buffalo, but  only after it felt like the skaters were wearing out a path to the penalty box in the team’s first four games.

Add in the fact that Joel Ward is due to turn back into a pumpkin any game now, offensively speaking, and it’s clear that there’s still work to do. Yes, even though Ovechkin has assured everyone that after just one goal and one win, the pressure is off.

At least Michal Neuvirth (22 saves on 24 shots on Sunday) made some kind of a statement that he has deserves to get the bulk of the playing time in net. He’s got his work cut out for him trying to out-duel Senators goalie Craig Anderson, who has started the season as hot as anyone wearing a fully painted mask: 3-0-1 with a microscopic 0.74 goals against average.

He has some fairly warm teammates too, including defending Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson (3 goals, 5 points) and Kyle Turris (4 goals). Ageless wonder Daniel Alfredsson has been fighting the flu, which could mean that 2011 sixth overall pick Mika Zibanejad will make his 2013 debut. Center Jason Spezza is definitely out with an upper-body injury suffered Sunday against Pittsburgh, and his spot in the lineup will be taken by Peter Regin.

Tonight’s game is the start of a mini two-game road trip that also sees the Caps visit Toronto on Thursday before returning to the Verizon Center for three straight, including tilts against the Flyers and Penguins. Maybe it’s stating the obvious (okay, definitely stating the obvious), but it would sure feel a lot better to have some momentum headed into that stretch.

 Washington Capitals at Ottawa Senators

Start Time: 7: 30 PM EST

TV: Comcast SportsNet

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Tags: Alex Ovechkin Craig Anderson Ottawa Senators Washington Capitals

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