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Coyotes Host Ovechkin's Capitals With Chance At First Place

(Sports Network) - The Capitals were unable to pick up some momentum before heading out west for a few games. The Coyotes, on the other hand, appear to be playing on titled ice.

Washington begins a five-game road trip hoping to avoid a third straight loss, while Phoenix tries for its fifth straight victory in tonight's meeting at Arena.

The Capitals got off to a great start on Saturday versus the Kings when Alex Ovechkin scored on the team's first shot just 66 seconds in. However, Washington failed to find the scoreboard again in an eventual 4-1 setback.

Semyon Varlamov made 24 saves but allowed three third-period goals as the Capitals fell to 2-3-2 over their past seven games. The first three contests of this road trip are out west against Phoenix, Anaheim and San Jose.

"We outworked [the Kings] in the first, got outworked in the second and all we had to do was outwork them in the third to start off a tough road trip," Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau said.

The Caps, who trail the Lightning by five points for first place in the Southeast Division. have won three of their past four on the road, but visit a Coyotes club that has won its last four games.

Phoenix began its current win streak with consecutive shutouts before picking up a pair of post-regulation victories. The Coyotes downed the Stars, 3-2, in overtime Wednesday on Radim Vrbata's power-play goal, then watched the forward play hero again with the lone shootout tally of Saturday's 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks.

Vrbata went wide right in the second round and brought the puck over to his backhand before roofing it into the net. Ilya Bryzgalov followed with saves on Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa.

"I was able to hang onto it a little bit, kind of wait a little bit more and found an opening," said Vrbata, who also scored in regulation to give him four tallies in three games.

Taylor Pyatt also scored and Bryzgalov ended with 31 saves for the Coyotes, who trail the Stars and Ducks by a point for first place in the Pacific Division.

Bryzgalov faced the Capitals for the first time in his career last season and gave up three goals on 33 shots in a 4-2 setback. Ovechkin scored into an empty net and teammate Alexander Semin had a goal and three assists.

Washington had lost two straight and four of five versus Phoenix prior to that home win and has just a pair of victories and two ties in its last eight trips to the desert.

Varlamov has never faced Phoenix, with Michal Neuvirth making 28 saves in last year's win.