Ducks, Capitals meet in surprising early-season showdown

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For as well as the Washington Capitals are playing of late, the Anaheim Ducks have been even better.

The host Ducks look to extend their longest winning streak in six seasons to eight games, while also trying to keep the Capitals from a fifth consecutive victory on Tuesday night.

Perhaps it’s not a surprise that Washington is among the top teams in the NHL with 22 points through 15 games, just two regulation losses and a 4-1-1 road record. Meanwhile, Anaheim’s hot start isn’t something that many pundits necessarily saw coming.

Yet the Ducks, who totaled 43 points in 56 games last season and haven’t made the playoffs since 2017-18, are sitting on 21 points through 16 games and amid their longest winning stretch since taking 11 in a row from Feb. 13-March 5, 2016.

Trevor Zegras had two goals with an assist and Ryan Getzlaf recorded two assists to move within one point of 1,000 for his career as Anaheim rolled to a 5-1 home victory over Vancouver on Sunday.

Anaheim, with at least one point in nine consecutive contests, has outscored its opponents 30-11 during the seven-game win streak, with five of those victories at home. On Sunday, Troy Terry (11 goals, nine assists) posted an assist to extend his career-high point streak to 14 games and John Gibson made 26 saves to push his personal winning stretch to six games — during which he’s posted a 1.65 goals-against average and .943 save percentage.

“This team is playing for each other, and playing loose,” Terry said. “I know it’s a cliche answer, but it’s just a lot of fun being on this team right now.”

It’s also a good time to be a member of the Capitals, who own a 17-7 goal advantage while winning four in a row. Six different Capitals scored and Alex Ovechkin recorded two assists during Sunday’s 6-1 home rout of Pittsburgh.

Ovechkin leads the way with 12 goals this season, but 17 other players have scored for Washington. Entering play Monday, the Capitals ranked fourth in the NHL with 54 goals.

“I think that’s exactly the recipe for success for us,” said Lars Eller, who has recorded one of those goals.

“If we get contributions from every line, we’re going to be hard to play against and match up against.”

Washington has also received some solid goaltending from Vitek Vanecek (2.34 goals-against average) and Ilya Samsonov (2.93 GAA), who have each posted four wins this season.

The Capitals might also get a boost as star T.J. Oshie (four goals, two assists) appears close to returning from a foot injury that occurred against Detroit on Oct. 27. According to The Athletic, Oshie is expected to be with the team during this four-game West Coast road stretch.

Washington won both meetings the last time it hooked up with Anaheim during the 2019-20 season. Ovechkin has 12 goals and 14 assists in 20 career games against the Ducks. Getzlaf, meanwhile, has posted four goals with 13 assists during an eight-game point streak against the Capitals.

–Field Level Media

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