Clash of the unbeatens

Clash of the unbeatens
October 22, 2011, 2:59 pm
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For just the second time in NHL history, two teams with season-opening winning streaks of five or more games will clash tonight when the 6-0-0 Capitals take on the 5-0-0 Detroit Red Wings at the Verizon Center.

The Caps, who have outscored their opponents 23-13, are coming off Thursday nights 5-2 win over the previously unbeaten Flyers. The Red Wings, who have outscored their opponents 18-7, are coming off a 5-2 home win over the winless Blue Jackets.

Any time you play Detroit, whether they've lost 30 or none, it's a test, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. For the last 16 years, they've been the best team. We feel it's a huge test and it's a huge measuring stick against those guys.

The Red Wings ranked 23rd in the NHL last season in goals allowed (241) and coach Mike Babcock has placed a stronger emphasis on defending this season. The Red Wings have allowed just seven goals in five games.

I can't speak for Mike, but just remembering things that were said last year is they were a little loose in the defensive area, so I'm sure that they were really cognizant in training camp of tightening up," Boudreau said. "When Mike says he's going to do something, he does something and they'll be good at that all year.

This is the third time this season the Capitals are facing an opponent that played the night before.

Alex Ovechkin, Brooks Laich and Dennis Wideman did not participate in Saturdays morning skate but are expected to be in the lineup against the Red Wings. Goaltender Michal Neuvirth, still nursing a bruised right foot, skated but is not expected to be cleared until next week. That means Dany Sabourin is likely to back up Tomas Vokoun tonight.

The Capitals are 6-for-23 on the power play this season and rank third in the NHL with a percentage of 26.1. The Red Wings entered Friday nights game ranked 29th in the NHL on the man-advantage but went 3-for-5 against the Jackets.

Offensively, the Caps are led by Nicklas Backstroms eight points (1 goal, 7 assists). The Red Wings are paced by Johan Franzens seven points (4 goals, 3 assists).