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Wings Meet Caps In D.C.

Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg is expected to return form injury.

Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg is expected to return form injury.

Before the Super Bowl XLVIII festivities reach boiling point, the Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals will look to capture the attention of America in a nationally televised matchup in the Nation’s capital.

Face-off at Verizon Center is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET.

Coming into the season, much was expected of the two sides, in particular the Red Wings, who, following in a conference change, were ranked third in the Eastern Conference by bookmakers.

Neither side has had a first half to remember, but both remain in the hunt for a playoff berth in a tightly-bunched Eastern Conference.

Detroit (24-19-11, 59pts) currently sits 10th in the conference, but a win on Sunday would propel the team into one of the two playoff berths (seeds 7 and 8).

Washington (24-22-9, 57pts) is a little further back, but would move to within one-point of a playoff berth with a win over the Red Wings.

With the NHL taking a sabbatical for the 2014 Sochi Olympics following next Saturday’s round of games, both teams will be looking to improve their standing before the layoff.

Sunday’s encounter in D.C. marks the second game of a home-and-home series between the two sides which began with Friday’s game in the Motor City.

Having blown an early lead, Detroit edged Washington 4-3 following a shootout in that game, and will be hoping for a similar result Sunday.

The Red Wings have lost six of their last eight on the road, including three straight, all games in which Mike Babcock’s side was shutout. Scoring will be a priority in Washington.

Detroit will welcome back Henrik Zetterberg, who has missed two games in a row with a back injury. Zetterberg leads the team in goals (16), assists (28) and points (44), and helped the team record victories in his last three games.

The Wings are 4-2-1 in their last seven.

Washington (24-22-9, 57pts) will look to take the victory Sunday, which would bring with it a 2-1 triumph in the season head-to-head.

The Capitals defeated the Red Wings when the two sides met at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit back on November 15, a game that also finished 4-3 following a shootout.

Sunday’s matinee game will be the last time the two sides meet this regular season. Both would be delighted if a postseason matchup loomed in the future.

Washington's Alex Ovechkin leads the league in goals scored.

Washington’s Alex Ovechkin leads the league in goals scored.

As they have done for the last nine years, the Capitals will once more lean on the skills of Alex Ovechkin, the NHL’s leading goal-scorer. Ovechkin’s 38 goals have the Russian winger eight-goals clear of Toronto’s John Tavares at the top of the scorer’s list.

Ovechkin scored eight goals and tallied eight assists in 13 games in January, but the Capitals went 4-5-4 during that stretch. He’ll hope for better before he makes the journey home next week to play with the Russian men’s hockey team.

On the other side of the ice, Ovechkin’s compatriot, Pavel Datsyuk, will miss Sunday’s game with a lower back injury. Datsyuk has missed Detroit’s last 12 games.

Detroit Red Wings vs. Washington Capitals odds for 02/02/2014

Washington (-131) was listed as the favorite over Detroit (+119) when the moneyline opened.

The two sides have split a pair this season but Washington has won four of the last six meetings between the sides. The Capitals have also beaten the Red Wings in three straight at Verizon Center.

Detroit (-250) is favored to cover the +1.5 spread.

The total is expected to go under (-116) the 5.5 marker, despite the fact that both games this season have ended with seven goals.

The total has gone over in Washington’s last three games and three of Detroit’s last five contests.

The total has gone over in six of the last seven meetings between the two teams in Washington, which certainly makes the over the smart bet.

20140202_NHL_East_standingsFor a full list of today’s NHL odds, click here.

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