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GAME: New Jersey Devils (32-22-8) at Washington Capitals (22-33-6).
TIME: Friday, 7 p.m. EST.
The Washington Capitals won't be going to the playoffs this season. Rookie Alex Ovechkin is giving them hope that they'll do so consistently in the future.
Ovechkin looks to extend his seven-game goal streak when the Capitals host the New Jersey Devils.
Ovechkin had a goal and two assists in Wednesday's 6-3 victory over Pittsburgh. The win was Washington's first in four games this season against Pittsburgh and its rookie phenom, Sidney Crosby.
Ovechkin, though, appears to have the inside track on Crosby to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie. The 20-year-old Russian easily leads first-year players with 42 goals, 13 more than Crosby, and 79 points, 10 better than the Pens' rookie.
"We finally beat this team, and I'm happy," Ovechkin said. "He's a good player, but we don't think about each other. We play for a team and try to help the team to win."
Ovechkin has the most goals by an NHL rookie since 1992-93, when Teemu Selanne set a record with 76. He has eight goals and five assists during his seven-game goal streak, which betters his own franchise rookie-record streak of six games (six goals, six assists) set from Dec. 22-Jan. 1.
Ivan Majesky added a fluke goal Wednesday for the Capitals, who improved to 2-0 on their five-game homestand. Majesky lifted the puck out of his own zone during a penalty, and it bounced 160 feet down the ice, past Pens goalie Sebastien Caron and into the net.
"It was a lucky bounce, but it counts," Majesky said of his first goal of the season. "It's in, so that's all it's about."
The Capitals have the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only the Penguins.
Defenseman Jamie Heward didn't suit up for the Caps on Wednesday due to an upper body injury. On Thursday, Washington sent veteran defenseman Brendan Witt to Nashville for minor league forward Kris Beech and a first-round pick in this year's draft.
The Devils lost 2-1 to the New York Islanders in a shootout Tuesday. New Jersey is 16-4-3 since Dec. 31, but has lost three times in its last five games, all to the Islanders.
Jamie Langenbrunner scored the lone goal for the Devils, who are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Center Patrik Elias skated Tuesday morning but missed his fourth consecutive game because of bruised ribs sustained in the Olympics. Defenseman Richard Matvichuk didn't practice and sat out his third straight with a back injury.
The Devils, who have only one loss and one tie in their last 10 games against the Capitals, acquired defenseman Ken Klee from Toronto on Wednesday for minor league forward Aleksander Suglobov.
On Thursday, they obtained defenseman Brad Lukowich from the Islanders for a third-round draft pick and sent defenseman Sean Brown to Vancouver for a fourth-round pick.
"Brad Lukowich provides additional depth and experience to our defense," coach and GM Lou Lamoriello said.
STANDINGS: Devils - 72 points, 3rd place, 9 PB, Atlantic Division. Capitals - 50 points, 5th place, 41 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Devils - Brian Gionta, 34 goals and 60 points; Scott Gomez, 35 assists; Cam Janssen, 65 PIM. Capitals - Ovechkin, 42 goals, 37 assists and 79 points; Chris Clark, 80 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Devils - Power play: 17 percent (59 for 348), 20th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82 percent (218 for 266), 17th. Capitals - Power play: 14.6 percent (54 for 370), 28th (tied). Penalty killing: 78.9 percent (332 for 421), 26th.
GOALTENDERS: Devils - Martin Brodeur (30-18-6, 5 SO, 2.44 GAA); Scott Clemmensen (2-4-2, 3.83). Capitals - Olaf Kolzig (17-23-6, 3.52); Brent Johnson (5-9-0, 4.02).
SEASON SERIES: Devils, 3-0.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 28; Devils, 7-2. At East Rutherford, N.J., Gionta and Brian Rafalski each scored twice for the Devils, and Gomez had three assists.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devils - 12-14-5 on the road; Capitals - 15-14-4 at home.
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