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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 8th (All times Eastern)

Phoenix Coyotes (29-23-11) at Washington Capitals (29-25-10), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The struggling Washington Capitals will try to halt a three-game slide when they welcome Martin Erat and the Phoenix Coyotes for Saturday's battle at Verizon Center.

The Capitals won their first two games after the Olympic break to extend their winning streak to four games overall, but the club then was swept by Philadelphia in a home-and-home series before losing Thursday's test in Boston.

The recent 0-2-1 skid has pushed Washington out of a playoff spot in the East, but the Caps enter Saturday just three points behind Detroit for the conference's final postseason berth.

The Caps were handed a 3-0 loss in Boston and managed to put only 16 shots on net in the loss. Both Washington and the Bruins went the entire game without committing a penalty.

"The killer instinct isn't there right now and it needs to be there because we're running out of time," noted Caps defenseman Karl Alzner.

Braden Holtby was solid for Washington in the loss, making 40 saves. The Caps will turn to Jaroslav Halak in net on Saturday, as the netminder gets set to debut for his new team.

Halak was acquired before Wednesday's trade deadline from Buffalo, with Washington flipping a piece picked up from Phoenix in order to gain the veteran backstop's services.

The Caps picked up forward Chris Brown, defenseman Rostislav Klesla and a fourth-round pick in the 2015 draft from the Coyotes on Tuesday in exchange for Erat and John Mitchell. Klesla was then sent to the Sabres along with goaltender Michal Neuvirth in exchange for Halak and a third-round pick in 2015.

It was the second time Halak was traded in the span of a days. He moved from St. Louis to Buffalo last Friday in the deal that moved former Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller to the Blues. The 28-year-old Halak did not play with Buffalo, but he was 24-9-4 with a .917 save percentage and 2.23 goals-against average in 40 games with the Blues this season.

Erat, who had one goal and 23 assists in 53 games with the Capitals this season, made his debut with Phoenix on Thursday. The Czech winger failed to reach the scoresheet but the Coyotes beat the visiting Montreal Canadiens by a 5-2 score.

Phoenix won for the second straight time in Thursday's tilt versus the Habs. The victory ended a three-game homestand, but the Coyotes hope to continue the winning streak when they open a four-game road trip on Saturday.

Erat's countryman Radim Vrbata scored two goals to help Phoenix beat Montreal and snap the Coyotes' 14-game winless streak against the Canadiens.

Shane Doan and Oliver Ekman-Larsson both had a goal and one assist for the Coyotes, who notched their first victory over Montreal since Dec. 9, 1998. The Canadiens had won nine straight and 11 of the previous 14 meetings, with the other three ending in ties.

"We talked about coming out like we did in the first and I think we did a pretty good job in the third," Ekman-Larsson said.

Mike Smith picked up the win with 24 saves, including 11 in a second period that was dominated by Montreal.

Phoenix improved to 19-11-3 as the host after Thursday's victory, but the club is just 10-12-8 on the road this season.

Like Washington, the Coyotes are fighting to get back into the playoff picture. Phoenix is one point behind the Dallas Stars for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

Phoenix recorded a 4-3 shootout win when the Capitals visited the desert back on Nov. 9, giving the Coyotes victories in two of three and four of the last six meetings. Washington, which is 17-10-5 as the host this season, has won the last two encounters in D.C.

03/08 10:48:02 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
 
1st
NCSU 16
BSU 11
 
1st
PIT 0
CAR 0
 
1st
CHA 22
GSW 26
 
8:00pm Tonight
UF
UNC
8:30pm Tonight
TULSA
ECU
Final
BOS 102
CHI 109
1st
CHA 22
GSW 26
 
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
DAL
7:30pm Tonight
DET
MIL
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
NOP
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
LAC
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
NYK
8:00pm Tonight
IND
ORL
8:30pm Tonight
SAN
SAC
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
PHO
10:00pm Tonight
POR
MEM
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
MIN
Final
WMICH 21
NILL 31
Final
SMU 9
HOU 35
Final
IOWA 34
NEB 37
Final
SFLA 0
UCF 16
Final
MARS 66
WKENT 67
Final
KSU 27
AKR 24
Final
BGU 24
BST 41
Final
UMASS 21
BUF 41
Final
EMICH 16
TOL 52
Final
MIZZ 21
ARK 14
Final
SALABAMA 40
NAVY 42
 
Final
ARZ 42
ARST 35
Final
AFA 27
COLST 24
 
Final
UCLA 10
STAN 31
8:00pm Tonight
VT
UVA
8:30pm Tonight
TULSA
ECU
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
 
Final
KU 82
TENN 67
Final
TEXAM 87
NO 65
 
Final
NCAT 57
RAD 65
 
Final
GEOR 58
BUT 64
Final
BRO 81
PVU 71
Final
RIU 66
SCU 44
Final
NARZ 70
SOUTH 63
Final
DART 68
MAST 67
Final
WRST 59
FIU 61
Final
XAV 73
UTEP 77
Final
OSU 73
JMU 56
Final
TXSOU 71
LAM 56
 
Final
TAMCC 75
MVSU 66
 
Final
AKAN 51
MIZST 55
Final
BUCK 80
PSU 88
 
Final
PROV 72
YALE 66
Final
UGA 62
MINN 66
 
Final
WISC 69
OKLA 56
Final
Terriers 70
NORST 72
 
Final
PEAY 62
STEPH 83
 
2nd
FSU 36
CSOU 26
 
2nd
VALPO 55
DRAK 33
 
2nd
CIN 58
MTST 33
 
2nd
SDU 60
PRIN 48
 
2nd
WASU 41
RICE 35
 
2nd
CSFU 36
USCU 45
 
Half
GT 30
RIDE 30
 
1st
TXPA 26
ALAST 39
 
1st
NCSU 16
BSU 11
 
1st
TCU 14
BRAD 9
 
1st
WAKE 30
DELST 27
 
1st
HART 22
EMERSON 16
 
1st
STJ 12
GONZ 17
 
1st
CLEM 21
HIGH 13
 
1st
SYR 20
HC 9
 
1st
MD 26
MON 14
 
1st
JVST 22
SAV 23
 
1st
MIAMI 34
SALA 11
 
1st
RUTG 24
VANDY 15
 
7:30pm Tonight
PETE
TENST
8:00pm Tonight
MARS
CLST
8:00pm Tonight
JST
HOF
 
8:00pm Tonight
INDST
MEM
8:00pm Tonight
UF
UNC
8:00pm Tonight
LATU
SAMF
8:00pm Tonight
TULA
SELA
 
8:00pm Tonight
NEB
TENNM
8:30pm Tonight
MISS
CREI
8:30pm Tonight
PORT
MURST
9:00pm Tonight
MARQ
MSU
9:00pm Tonight
ARK
UNT
9:00pm Tonight
NCOL
STET
 
9:00pm Tonight
IND
UNCG
9:00pm Tonight
SJST
WMICH
9:05pm Tonight
MNTST
TXARL
9:30pm Tonight
UVA
LAS
9:30pm Tonight
STLU
MSST
9:30pm Tonight
COLST
PAC
10:00pm Tonight
UTAH
NDAK
10:30pm Tonight
ILL
BAY
10:30pm Tonight
UAB
UCLA
11:30pm Tonight
WASH
LBSU
11:59pm Tonight
UCSB
MERC
Final
PHI 0
NYR 3
Final
ANA 1
CHI 4
Final
WAS 5
NYI 2
 
1st
PIT 0
CAR 0
 
1st
NJD 1
DET 1
 
1st
BUF 1
MON 0
 
1st
CLB 0
VAN 0
 
1st
BOS 0
WIN 0
 
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
OTT
8:00pm Tonight
STL
EDM
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
MIN