The Washington Capitals might be excused if they saw a drop in production with Alex Ovechkin missing from their lineup. A host of players have made sure he hasn't been missed too much.
They may need to continue producing as the Capitals are expected to be without the two-time reigning Hart Trophy winner again Friday night when they host the Minnesota Wild.
Washington (11-3-4) appeared to suffer a major blow when Ovechkin suffered an upper-body injury in a 5-4 overtime loss to Columbus on Nov. 1. The left wing, who is considered week-to-week, remains tied with Los Angeles' Anze Kopitar for the league lead with 14 goals despite missing the last four games.
The Capitals, though, haven't cooled off without Ovechkin, going 3-1-0 while outscoring opponents 18-12 as 10 players have found the back of the net. Washington also leads the NHL with 70 goals, and is tied with New Jersey atop the Eastern Conference.
"Alex is the best player in the league, and he's going to get the ice time that he deserves," right wing Chris Clark said. "But if he goes down, there's a lot of ice time to share. So I think the guys are definitely putting the effort in and showing that they can do it when you give them a chance."
Clark has an assist in each of the last four games, setting a career record. He extended that streak Wednesday before scoring in the 11th round of the shootout en route to a 5-4 win over the New York Islanders.
Alexander Semin snapped a six-game goal-scoring drought with two tallies before converting his attempt in the tiebreaker. The right wing's first goal came eight seconds into the contest, tying the club record set by Gaetan Duchesne in 1987.
Semin is second on Washington with nine goals, but coach Bruce Boudreau claims motivation has been an issue.
"He looked like he wanted to play," Boudreau said after Semin had a career-high 11 shots Wednesday. "When he wants to play, he could've had six. He's scary good when he's motivated."
The Capitals lost 4-3 to the Wild (7-10-1) on Nov. 24 in the clubs' only meeting last season, dropping to 3-5-1 in the all-time series. However, all three victories have come in Washington.
The Wild are looking to rebound from Thursday's 4-3 shootout loss at Tampa Bay. They settled for a point after giving up two third-period goals, including one with 14.7 seconds to play, before missing both shootout attempts.
Despite the defeat, Minnesota is 4-1-1 after opening the season with nine losses in 12 games.
"They're all disappointed," first-year coach Todd Richards said. "That's an emotion you want from them, that we didn't get win. You just tell them that we deserved a better fate."
Captain Mikko Koivu is on a scoring surge with two goals and three assists over the last three games. The center had an assist against the Lightning, but saw his shootout chance saved by Antero Niittymaki.
Koivu leads the Wild with 12 assists and 17 points. He has two assists in three games against the Capitals.