Stars Coming Out to Play on Tuesday

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel

Today the NHL named Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller the second star for the week ending March 25 and Caps captain Alex Ovechkin the league’s third star for the same week. (Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin was the first star.) On Tuesday night in the District, Miller and Ovechkin and their respective teams will go head-to-head in a battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this spring. Both teams will still have five games remaining after tomorrow night’s meeting at Verizon Center, but whichever team gets two points from Tuesday’s tilt is the one that will remain in charge of its destiny heading into those final five games. Both Miller and Ovechkin have been hot for more than just the last week. With 36 goals on the season, Ovechkin now has four more than he had in 2010-11 and he is tied for fourth in the NHL. He has scored a goal in five straight games (seven goals, one assist) for the first time since a five-game run from Jan. 31-Feb. 7, 2010 (eight goals, four assists). Ovechkin has nine goals in his last seven games. (According to the good folks at Japers’ Rink, Ovechkin’s run of nine goals in seven games matches the best of his NHL career.) It took him 27 games to net his first nine goals of the 2011-12 season. He had nine goals and 20 points in his first 27 games, nine goals and 14 points in his next 15 games, nine goals and 16 points in the 21 games after that, and he now has nine goals and 11 points in his last nine games. He has 10 goals and 12 points in 13 March games and has totaled 16 goals and 22 points in his last 23 games. In his last game against the Sabres on Dec. 30, Ovechkin had two goals in a 3-1 Washington win. Lifetime, he has 17 goals and 29 points in 26 games against the Sabres. Eight of those goals and 15 of those points have come on the power play. “His first goal the other night against Winnipeg,” begins Caps center Brooks Laich, “when he went down and shot it through [Jets defenseman Mark] Stuart’s legs, I just laughed all the way up the ice when it went in. It’s so nice to see. It’s something that people can’t do, and Ovi does it. “When he’s playing at that level, he’s got that special ability to elevate his game. And when he is at that level, man he’s fun to watch and play alongside. It’s incredible.” Miller will be gunning for his 30th win of the season on Tuesday night at Verizon Center. Whenever he gets it, it will mark his seventh straight season with 30 or more victories. Prior to the All-Star break this season, Miller was 12-15-2 in 30 starts, and he had a 3.07 GAA, an .899 save pct. and one shutout. Since the break, Miller is 17-3-5 in 26 games (25 starts), with five shutouts, a 1.87 GAA and a .937 save pct. With six shutouts on the season, he has notched a single-season best. Lifetime against the Capitals, Miller is 12-9 with three shutouts, a 2.52 GAA and a .914 save pct. in 22 starts. In 10 career starts at Verizon Center, Miller is 5-4 with a shutout, a 3.08 GAA and an .896 save pct. “I have a lot of respect for him as a goaltender,” says Laich. “I think he can elevate his game the same as a [Henrik] Lundqvist can the same as a [Martin] Broduer can to where they become unbeatable. “That being said, we have to have great determination around the net and also shoot pucks from the point and crash the net. Everyone on the ice has to be looking to shoot; everyone’s a shooter rather than looking for the perfect play all the time. Just pepper this guy and make him work. “And some of our guys have been pretty hot, the way they’re shooting the puck lately. Number eight is firing it pretty well. Get it to the guys who are getting it in the net, and the rest of us go to the net.”

next up:

It's Miller vs. Holtby

January 14, 2013

When Buffalo and Washington meet in the 77th and most important game of the season to date for both teams tonight in the District, the Sabres will go with Ryan Miller and the Capitals with Braden Holtby in goal. Miller is seeking his 30th win of the season; it would be his seventh consecutive

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