Alex Ovechkin said sometimes he needs to change up his game, but one thing hasn't changed for the NHL's reigning MVP. Whether upright or sliding on the ice, he's continued scoring, and the Washington Capitals have kept winning.
The league's top goal scorer faces one of the NHL's worst defensive teams when the Capitals try for a fourth straight victory Friday night at the Verizon Center against Colorado.
In a 4-3 shootout victory Wednesday night over Montreal, Ovechkin scored for the fifth time in the past three games and extended his point streak to 10 with a highlight-reel goal in the first period. The Washington winger spun a pass to himself off the boards then scored while sliding in front of Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.
"You have to try something new," he said. "I'm changing, and it's working. It was an important game for us and an important goal."
Ovechkin has scored 11 of his league-leading 42 goals and recorded 16 points during his streak to help Washington to a 7-1-1 record in its last nine. The Capitals (37-16-5) have averaged 4.33 goals in that time, scoring four or more in eight games.
Ovechkin, who has one goal in two lifetime meetings with Colorado (27-30-1), has played especially well at home, scoring 23 times in the last 22 games at the Verizon Center - where the Capitals are 23-4-1. He has seven goals in the last five at home for Washington, which continues its season-high five-game homestand Friday.
Nicklas Backstrom is also playing well with two goals and 11 assists over the last nine.
Washington goaltender Jose Theodore could face his former team for the first time Friday. Theodore, who played two full seasons - plus part of the 2005-06 campaign - with the Avalanche before signing a two-year deal with the Capitals in July, is 3-0-1 with a 2.40 goals-against average in his last four starts.
Since Theodore left, the Avalanche's GAA has risen from 2.60 to 3.04. Colorado, beginning a season-high six-game road trip, has given up 60 goals while going 5-11-0 in its last 16.
However, the Avalanche has gone beyond regulation to pull out consecutive wins, beating Detroit 6-5 in a shootout Sunday and topping Ottawa 3-2 in overtime Tuesday night.
Wojtek Wolski snapped a 15-game goal drought 1:20 into overtime, and Ian Laperriere scored for a second straight game.
"I feel like I've been working hard of late and getting a lot of chances, breakaways almost every game, and I haven't been able to put it in the net," Wolski said. "It's nice to contribute."
The Avalanche will not have center Paul Stastny back in the lineup on Friday. Stastny, who is fourth on the team with 31 points and has 10 goals, has missed the last seven weeks with a broken right forearm.
Colorado has faced Washington twice since 2003 and lost both meetings, including 2-1 at the Verizon Center on Jan. 9, 2008. The Capitals are 3-0-1 in their last four at home against the Avalanche.