- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 6, 2010

With just one week to go before the Capitals hit the Olympic break, the team might just get a chance to match a bit of NHL history.

Friday night’s 4-2 decision over Atlanta was Washington’s 13th consecutive win to extend the franchise’s own record. Now the Caps will get a chance to record the longest-win streak in the NHL since 1992-93 on Sunday afternoon when the Penguins are scheduled to make a visit to Verizon Center.

The raw numbers of the Caps’ streak are pretty staggering. During the 13 games, the Caps have outscored their opponents 62-29 — not including a shootout goal that won the first game of the streak. Even more impressive, in seven of the 13 games, the Capitals actually trailed their opponents, but thanks to strong finishes, Washington has outscored their opponents 28-6 in the third period to take those seven contests.

“The guys want to win more than anything,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters following another strong third-period effort Friday. “That’s why they come out in the third period, and they’re pretty well in control so far in the third period lately.”

“[If] you get down two goals, if you get down three goals, youre not out of the game and [Alex Ovechkin] can score with the best of them any game,” Jason Chimera said. “Its a matter of plugging away.”

Ovechkin certainly did his part to the Caps keep the streak alive Thursday, scoring a spectacular one-handed goal against Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to turn around a two-goal deficit late in the second period into a 6-5 road win at Madison Square Garden.

When asked about Washington’s comeback prowess, Ovechkin simply said: “It’s a still a problem when different teams score the first goal, but we have character.”

Standing in the way of win No. 14 is the Capitals’ old nemesis, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Although Washington notched an impressive 6-3 win 16 days ago in Pittsburgh to earn win No. 5 of the current streak, the last time the Penguins paid a visit to Verizon Center nine months ago, they ended Washington’s Stanley Cup hopes by routing the Caps in a Game 7 win.

This year’s Penguins would love to end the Capitals’ run at the 17-game record the Penguins franchise has held since the year that followed Pittsburgh’s back-to-back Stanley Cup championships.

“I’ve got to believe that even if [the Penguins] say we’re not a big rival of theirs, they want to beat us on Sunday in our building,” Boudreau said when asked about the Penguins’ first visit of the season.

One advantage the Capitals might have over the Penguins is a true home-ice advantage. Thanks to the NHL schedule, the Penguins will have to travel from Montreal following a Saturday afternoon contest against the Canadiens, and that could be quite a challenge considering the snowstorm that has made any travel to Washington, D.C., difficult. The Penguins have had to explore several travel options, from being able to be one of the few planes able to land in the area, to even flying to Newark, N.J., and taking a train down from the Garden State.

Should the Capitals keep the streak going, they will get a chance to tie the NHL record on a three-game road trip to head into the break, as they pay a visit to Montreal, Ottawa and then St. Louis.

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