The Washington Capitals are failing to perform up to their own lofty standards on offense. Correcting those woes won't be easy against the owners of the NHL's best record.
The Capitals will try to avoid a fourth loss in five games Friday night when they host the Vancouver Canucks.
Washington (24-13-7) captured the Presidents' Trophy last season due largely to its NHL-best 3.8 goals per game. While still in the thick of the playoff race, the Capitals are scoring a full goal less per game in 2010-11.
"We haven't been scoring as many goals as we're used to," defenseman Mike Green said. "We're not getting guys going to the net and we're not throwing pucks at the net when we should. That's the hardest part is not getting frustrated and staying composed. You go through your ups and downs, and that's just the way it seems to go."
The Capitals suffered their sixth shutout of the season -- two more than their total from the previous two campaigns combined -- Wednesday, falling 3-0 at Tampa Bay.
Alex Ovechkin, who scored 50 goals in 2009-10, has three in his last 15 games and 15 on the season, putting him on pace to finish well short of his previous career low of 46. The Capitals are 10-2-1 when he scores at least one goal.
Washington has dropped 11 of its last 18, but coach Bruce Boudreau is excited to see how his team responds against the front-runner for this season's Presidents' Trophy.
"We're facing a juggernaut, there's no ifs ands about it," Boudreau said. "They've got strength right through their lineup and they're going to be a very difficult team to beat, but its a tremendous challenge for us. It's a great test -- and we're looking forward to it."
Alexander Semin, third on the Capitals with 35 points, is expected to miss his third consecutive game while defenseman Tom Poti is also unlikely to be available. Both players are dealing with lower-body injuries.
The Canucks (28-9-6) failed to record a point Thursday for the first time in 18 games, falling 1-0 at the New York Rangers.
The loss ended a five-game road winning streak as well as Daniel Sedin's five-game point streak, during which he'd tallied five goals and three assists. Sedin has two goals and no assists in nine career games against Washington.
Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo received some extra rest Thursday while Cory Schneider got the start. Schneider made 34 saves en route to his first loss in regulation.
"There were two hot goaltenders on the ice (Thursday) and it was a battle from start to finish," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "We had a couple of opportunities but their goaltender made some good saves."
Vancouver, which leads the league with a 27.5 road power-play percentage, couldn't convert in three chances versus the Rangers.
Luongo, 13-1-2 with a 1.84 goals-against average in his last 16 starts, is likely to be back in goal to face the Capitals. He is 16-10-0 with three ties and a 2.26 goals-against average in his career against Washington.
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