News and notes as the Capitals [34-28-13, 81 points] take on the equally desperate Dallas Stars [36-27-11, 83 points] tonight at Verizon Center [7 p.m., CSN]:
Desperation station: Both teams are one point out of a playoff spot in their respective conferences. The Caps are one point behind the Blue Jackets, who have a game in hand. The Stars are one point behind the Phoenix Coyotes, who have played one more game. If the Caps win and the Blue Jackets lose at home to the Avalanche, Washington will be in a playoff spot for the first time since Jan. 18. If the Wild win and the Coyotes lose at home to Winnipeg, the Stars will be in a playoff spot.
What they’re saying: “This game means a lot for both teams. It’s going to be full-throttle from the start of the game until the end.” – Caps LW Marcus Johansson
“The reality is we didn’t win the last couple [1-3-1] and we have seven games left. We have to probably win five or six to get in. It’s been desperation for a bit.” – Caps RW Joel Ward
“They’re in the same position as us. It’s a desperate game. It’s a must-win for both teams.” Caps coach Adam Oates
Trending: The Caps have picked up at least a point in seven of their last eight games [4-1-3] but are 1-1-3 in their last five. The Stars are 4-1-1 since stumbling through a four-game losing streak. The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five meetings against the Caps.
March madness: It is hard to believe Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom went the entire month of March without an even-strength goal. In 15 games, Ovechkin had seven goals and two assists, all on the power play, and was a minus-15. Backstrom had two goals and 12 assists and was a minus-11.
Leading after two: The Caps are 25-1-3 when leading after two periods; the Stars are 21-0-4 when leading after two.
Special teams: The Caps rank first in the NHL on the power play at 24.2 percent; the Stars rank 22nd at 16.2 percent. The Caps rank 20th on the PK at 81 percent; the Stars rank 21st at 80.6 percent.
Shootout numbers: The Caps are 9-10 in shootouts this season and have gone three straight games without Ovechkin taking an attempt. The Stars are 3-5 in shootouts this season.
Tiebreakers: With 25 regulation or overtime wins the Caps would lose the first tiebreaker with any of the teams fighting for a playoff spot, which means they will need to finish with more points than their wild card counterparts to get into the post-season.
Return of Gonch: Dallas Stars defenseman Sergei Gonchar, 39, was drafted by the Caps in the first round [14th overall] of the 1992 draft and spent nine-plus seasons in D.C., recording 416 points in 654 games. In 68 games for Dallas this season Gnchar has two goals and 19 assists.
Me, too: Stars center Cody Eakin, 22, was taken by the Caps in the third round [85th overall] of the 2009 NHL draft, earning eight points in 30 games for the Caps. He has 16 goals and 18 assists in 73 games for the Stars this season.