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Stars Host Caps In Battle Of Four-Game Win Streaks

(Sports Network) - Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has yet to score a goal over his club's current four-game winning streak. Instead, he is letting his teammates pile up the goals.

Washington aims to extend its win streak tonight and prevent the Dallas Stars from posting a season-best fifth straight victory as the two teams clash at American Airlines Center.

The Capitals have scored 16 goals over their current winning run, but outside of his shootout tally versus Carolina on Sunday, Ovechkin hasn't been a part of the goal parade. However, he does have seven assists over Washington's winning streak to give him 23 helpers and 33 points in 26 games.

Ovechkin, who hasn't scored in eight straight games, had just one assist in last night's 4-1 victory over St. Louis and that came on Nicklas Backstrom's empty-net tally. Backstrom finished with two goals and an assist, whileBoyd Gordon and Brooks Laich also scored as Washington won in St. Louis for the first time since Oct. 26, 1996.

Steady goaltending from Semyon Varlamov has also helped take the pressure off of Ovechkin. Washington's current win streak coincides with Varlamov's return from a groin injury and he has a 1.22 goals-against average in the four games. He made 37 saves last night in defeating the Blues.

"I think this was his best game because he smothered everything that came his way," said Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau about Varlamov. "When we needed to get a faceoff and win a faceoff he would smother the puck and give us that chance."

Varlamov made 23 saves versus the Stars in Washington last season and Ovechkin scored twice, but Dallas came through with a 4-3 shootout win, its sixth victory in its last eight versus the Capitals. With Washington leading the NHL with 38 points, Dallas gets a good chance tonight to see how it stacks up against the best in the league.

"You like it when you get a chance to play against top teams," Dallas head coach Marc Crawford told his team's website. "They're attention-getting teams. Whether it's the individual stars that they have or that they're top teams in the league, they all point to the fact that it's a real good club.

"We really want to really challenge ourselves to be at the right form and right style of play that will allow us to win the game. We don't care how we win but you'd like to win correctly."

Dallas is also emerging as a contender as it has won four straight for the first time since opening the season 4-0 and is tied with Phoenix and Anaheim for first place in the tight Pacific Division. The Stars picked up two big points on Monday with a 4-1 victory over the Hurricanes.

James Neal had two goals and Jaime Benn scored in his third straight game in addition to an assist. Steve Ottalso had a goal and Kari Lehtonen finished with 27 saves in Dallas' sixth victory in eight games.

A return to Dallas should also favor the Stars in this matchup. They are 6-0-1 in their last seven at American Airlines Center and have defeated Washington in eight of their last 10 trips to Dallas.

Lehtonen has never faced the Capitals while with the Stars, but went 10-6-2 with a 2.80 GAA against them while with the Thrashers.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.