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Capitals-Canadiens Preview

By KEVIN CHROUST

STATS Writer

(AP) -- The Washington Capitals haven't experienced this steep of a slide in more than three years.

The Montreal Canadiens haven't been much better, but their poor defensive-zone play could get a reprieve against the offensively challenged Capitals.

The two slumping clubs will meet Saturday night in Montreal with each hoping to avoid a winless weekend after extending their losing streaks Friday.

After beginning a five-game road trip with a 2-1 loss at New Jersey, Washington (22-21-8) has gone winless in seven straight for the first time since dropping eight in a row from Dec. 2-18, 2010.

It's the team's 13 losses in its last 16 contests that tell a more complete story.

"Look what's happening. Look at our results. It's the same mistakes, mostly by veteran guys, but we can't shoot ourselves in the foot," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "You play a decent game, right? It was a good game, good hard-fought game, but we got behind and we couldn't catch up."

Alex Ovechkin missed his second straight game as the Capitals' offensive futility continued, and they could be without another key forward against Montreal. Mikhail Grabovski left the game in the second period with a leg injury and didn't return. Oates was uncertain of his status after the game.

Jason Chimera's third-period goal was just the Caps' eighth on the seven-game skid, during which they've scored more than a goal once as they plummet in the Metropolitan Division standings.

"It's very frustrating," Oates said. "Penalties in the offensive zone. All the same mistakes. Same speech to you."

Their normally effective power play (23.2 percent) is 1 for its last 25 over the course of nine games.

"Power play's not good enough, maybe because they're tired, maybe it's because it puts too much pressure on them," Oates said.

The Canadiens (27-19-5), meanwhile, have lost three straight and four of five with 22 goals allowed in that span after Friday's 4-1 loss at Detroit.

Brendan Gallagher scored for the second time in three games, but the team has been outscored 9-2 in the last two.

"Just little, unfortunate breakdowns that we know better. Just little things cost us," Gallagher said.

Carey Price fell to 1-4-0 since Jan. 14 with a 4.40 goals-against average and .855 save percentage.

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who started 24 of the team's first 29 games, is 0-3-1 since Dec. 10 with a 4.20 GAA and .854 save percentage. He started Tuesday against Ottawa for the first time since Jan. 4 and is 4-0-0 with a 1.23 GAA and .957 save percentage in his career against Montreal.

The teams split two games in Washington earlier this season, with the Capitals earning a 3-2 shootout win in the latest meeting on Nov. 29. Ovechkin scored twice in a 3-2 loss on Nov. 22, while Canadiens center Daniel Briere scored in both.

Montreal backup Peter Budaj started both games and posted a 1.92 GAA.

Updated January 25, 2014

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