Alex Ovechkin is still chasing his 700th NHL goal for the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning will try to set a team record with their 11th consecutive win. But there are more stories to watch this week. Here are the top five along with fantasy can’t-miss players.
1. Ovechkin chasing 700 for Capitals
The road to 700 goals in the NHL continues for Alex Ovechkin when the Washington Capitals play the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena on Monday (NBCSN, SN, ATTSN-RM, NBCSWA, NHL.TV).
The forward has not scored a goal in four straight games since No. 698 on Feb. 4, his longest goal drought of the season. He’s scored 40 goals this season, 23 in 28 road games, and is trying to become the eighth member of the 700-goal club in the NHL.
The Capitals are 21-7-1 on the road, best in the NHL, but 3-5-0 in their past eight games. Washington (37-16-5) is one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins for first in the Metropolitan Division and returns to where it won the Stanley Cup for the first time in its history by defeating Vegas in Game 5 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.
2. Lightning try to win team-record 11th straight game
The Tampa Bay Lightning will attempt to set a team record by winning their 11th consecutive game when they play the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Monday (9 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SN, TVAS, ALT, SUN, NHL.TV).
The Lightning’s 10-game run is tied for the longest in their history set from Feb. 9-27, 2019 and matched Dec. 23 to Jan. 11 this season. Tampa Bay (39-15-5) is three points behind the Boston Bruins (37-11-12) in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy given to the team with the best record in the regular season.
3. Blue Jackets, Flyers set for key home-and-home series
The Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers play a home-and-home set that could help determine Stanley Cup Playoff positioning in the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference. The first game is at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSP, FS-O, NHL.TV) with the rematch at Nationwide Arena on Thursday.
Though the Blue Jackets (30-18-12) are 0-2-0 against the Flyers this season, they’re 19-4-8 since Dec. 9. They’re one point ahead of the Flyers (32-20-7) for the first wild card into the playoffs from the East despite injuries to numerous players including forwards Alexander Wennberg (upper body) and Cam Atkinson (lower body), and defenseman Seth Jones, who is expected to be out the rest of the regular season after having ankle surgery Feb. 11.
The Flyers missed the playoffs last season and have not advanced beyond the first round since 2011-12.
4. Varlamov returns to Colorado with Islanders
Semyon Varlamov could start for the New York Islanders against the Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; ESPN+, ALT, MSG+, NHL.TV). It would be the goalie’s first game in Denver since leaving Colorado as a free agent and signing a four-year contract with New York on July 1, 2019.
Varlamov is 17-10-4 with a 2.55 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and two shutouts for the Islanders. He made 32 saves in a 1-0 win against the Avalanche at Nassau Coliseum on Jan. 6.
New York (33-16-6) is in third place in the Metropolitan Division.
5. Senators to retire Phillips’ No. 4
Chris Phillips will have his No. 4 retired by the Ottawa Senators before the game against the Buffalo Sabres at Canadian Tire Centre on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS2, MSG-B, NHL.TV).
It will be the third number retired by Ottawa, joining the No. 8 of Frank Finnigan (1923-34) and No. 11 of Daniel Alfredsson (1995-2013).
Phillips, a defenseman, played a Senators-record 1,179 NHL games, finishing with 288 points (71 goals, 217 assists) in 17 seasons. He was the No. 1 pick in the 1996 NHL Draft and played his final NHL game Feb. 5, 2015.
Fantasy can’t-miss picks
Zach Sanford, STL: The St. Louis Blues left wing has been thriving on a line with valuable center Ryan O’Reilly and right wing David Perron, scoring seven goals over his past five games. Sanford, who has 15 points (nine goals, six assists) and is plus-13 over his past 12 games, has become a must-add forward in season-long leagues, especially with four games this week. — Pete Jensen
Lars Eller, WSH: He has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) and 32 shots on goal in the past 16 games averaging 16:46 per game over the span. Eller has added value this week with four games against the Vegas Golden Knights, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins. — Rob Reese