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Washington Capitals Look To Go Wild In Minnesota

(Sports Network) - Alex Ovechkin has gone five straight games without lighting the lamp, but outstanding goaltending from Michal Neuvirth has helped keep the Capitals competitive.

Washington aims for a third straight victory this evening and its first ever at Xcel Energy Center as it visits the Minnesota Wild.

After notching 100-point seasons in three straight and four of his first five NHL campaigns, Ovechkin has four goals and nine points in nine games this season. The Russian winger has just two points -- both assists -- over his goal-scoring drought, including one last night in a 3-0 win over the Hurricanes.

It was Neuvirth who stole the show last night, making 29 saves for his first career shutout. Playing in place of the injured Semyon Varlamov (groin), the 22-year-old Neuvirth is 6-2-0 with a 2.18 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in nine games (eight starts) this season.

Neuvirth, who could be in net again tonight, has never faced the Wild.

Nicklas Backstrom scored twice last night for Washington, which has won six of its last eight. Matt Hendricks also lit the lamp.

"I thought that was easily our most complete game," Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Everybody did a good job."

Washington opened a three-game road trip without Tom Poti (lower body) and Marcus Johansson (hip flexor), who have both missed two straight games. Poti has also sat out five of Washington's last seven contests with the ailment.

Though the Capitals recorded a 3-1 home win over the Wild last year in their only meeting of the season, Minnesota has won five of the last seven encounters.

Washington has never won at Xcel Energy Center, losing all five of its trips there.

Ovechkin has a goal and one assist in three career games versus the Wild.

Minnesota dropped its second straight game on Monday, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Los Angeles KingsNiklas Backstrom made 32 saves, but was beaten by the Kings' Michal Handzus in the fifth round of the deciding frame. Antti Miettinen had a chance to extend the game, but was unsuccessful.

John Madden and Nick Schultz tallied for the Wild, who fell to 2-1-1 in their last four games. The club blew a 2-0 lead and also failed to convert a five- minute power play after Los Angeles' Dustin Brown picked up a major and game misconduct for a hit to the head of Miettinen.

"We took too many penalties and it was a theme of the short season so far. Even if a team doesn't score, they're able to get momentum on it," Madden said. "Timing's everything and we get a five-minute power play and [if we] go up 3-1, it's a different hockey game."

Cam Barker missed his second straight game with a groin injury and his return for tonight's second contest of a five-game homestand is questionable.

Backstrom has split two all-time starts against the Capitals with a 3.50 GAA. Wild head coach Todd Richards could also elect to give Jose Theodore his second start of the season against his old club.

Theodore played with Washington the previous two seasons, winning 62 games, and is 7-8-0 with a tie and 2.52 GAA versus the Caps lifetime.