Pre-game primer: Neuvirth gets the call

Pre-game primer: Neuvirth gets the call
April 25, 2013, 12:00 pm
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News and notes as the Capitals [26-18-2, 54 points] take on the Ottawa Senators [23-16-6, 52 points] at VerizonCenter [6:30 p.m. Capitals Central, CSN]:

Neuvy in: Caps goaltender Michal Neuvirth [4-5-1, 2.81 GAA, .905] is expected to make his first start since winning back-to-back games on April 7 and April 9, allowing starter Braden Holtby to get a breather after he started six straight games and playing in 17 of 19. Neuvirth is 4-1-0 with a 1.82 and .935 save percentage in six career games against Ottawa. The Sens are expected to go with Craig Anderson, who leads the NHL in GAA [1.71] and save percentage [.941].

Ward skating: Caps right wing Joel Ward [bruised left knee] skated with the team on Thursday morning and there is a chance he could return to the lineup on Saturday when the Capitals close out the regular season against the Bruins. Ward will miss his eighth straight game tonight since blocking a shot by Tampa’s Sami Salo on April 7.

In a clinch: The Senators are 2-0-0 against the Caps this season and can clinch a playoff spot with a win of any kind tonight. They need two points in their final three games to get into the post-season but have lost their last two games by a combined score of 7-2. If they win all three games, the Sens have a shot at moving all the way to the fifth seed.  

Karlsson’s return: Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson told reporters he will return to the lineup tonight for the first time since injuring his Achilles tendon on February 13th. He was last year's Norris trophy winner and had 10 points in his first 14 games with the Sens.

Playoffs here we come: The Caps will be entering the playoffs for the sixth straight spring, their longest streak of playoff appearances since 14 straight visits from 1983 through 1996. The streak of six straight playoff appearances is tied for the fourth-longest active playoff streak in the NHL. The Caps and Canucks are the only two NHL teams that have won five division titles in six years. 

Ovi’s 600th: Alex Ovechkin will be playing in his 600th career NHL game tonight. No current NHL player with 600 or fewer games has amassed more points [732] or goals [370] than Ovechkin. He will tie Robert Gould for 15th place in games played in Capitals history.

Adios, Southeast: With their 5-3 win over Winnipeg on Tuesday night the Caps played their final game in the Southeast Division. They went 15-3-0 against their division rivals this season and went 185-97-44 in their 326 regular season Southeast Division games over the last 14 seasons.

Ovi watch: Alex Ovechkin has had 10 multiple-point efforts in his last 17 games and has 19 goals and 10 assists in that span. The Caps are 14-2-1 in that stretch. With a league-leading 31 goals, Ovechkin is two ahead of Tampa’s Steven Stamkos. Both players have two games remaining. Ovechkin [53 points] is also five points behind Marty St. Louis for the NHL scoring title, but would need to climb past Patrick Kane [54], Sidney Crosby [56] and Stamkos [56] before catching St. Louis, who also has two games left.