The Washington Capitals (37-16-5-79, first in Southeast) host the Colorado Avalanche (37-30-1-55, fifth in Northwest) at 7:00 pm from the Verizon Center.

The Capitals are red-hot once again, with just one regulation loss in their last 10 games (7-1-2). Washington defeated the reeling Montreal Canadiens, 4-3, in a shootout Wednesday before another capacity crowd, pushing their home record to an Eastern Conference-best 23-4-1 for the season.

Left wing Alex Ovechkin continued his march toward another Hart Trophy, notching his league-leading 42nd goal in the win in spectacular fashion, collecting a backhanded self-pass off the boards and beating All-Star goalie Corey Price short side from his rear end after being hauled down by a defender.

Ovechkin playfully shrugged off suggestions of the goal being an all-time top goal in the locker room after the game, but it's clear that he can do things with the puck no other in the game today can match.

The Great Eight has scored in 10 straight games, and has 11 goals and 16 points in that stretch, with 23 goals in his last 22 games at home. He leads Jeff Carter and Zach Parise by eight goals and has 20 third period goals, tops in the league.

Dominik Hasek was the last player to win back-to-back MVP awards, in 96-97 and 97-98 with the Buffalo Sabres. Heady company indeed.

Tonight's game is a big one for goalie Jose Theodore, who felt slighted when he was unceremoniously dumped from Colorado following last season.

He told Capitals Insider:
"I was surprised. With the way the GM told me I played the last three-quarters of last season, plus the playoff, and knowing that he felt that I had my game back [I thought] they wanted to keep me and that it would be easy and quick."

Any regrets?

"No, not really," Theodore said. "Look at the position I'm in now and where my game has been for the past two months. I think that pretty much speaks for itself."
Forward Viktor Kozlov will miss his seventh consecutive game with a groin pull. Staffan Kronwall is scheduled to replace John Erskine in the lineup tonight. Erskine is battling the flu.

Washington looks to record its eighth consecutive sellout for tonight's game. It would equal the team's record for straight sellouts in one season. The Caps were working on a similar streak earlier this season, but it was broken due to a quirk in the schedule and ticketing issues.

Colorado is having a very tough season, at the bottom of the Western Conference. They only have two players (Milan Hejduk and Ryan Smyth) with more than 15 goals, their goaltending has not been able to make up the difference, and they suffer from injuries to key players, including the talented Paul Stastny, following the footsteps of his famous father and uncle in the NHL.

They have won their last two games, however, knocking off Detroit (on the road), in a 6-5 shootout, and Ottawa at home in a 3-2 OT win.

WAS: PP-3rd (23.8%, 57/140); PK-22nd (79.3%, 58/280)
COL: PP-20th (17.2%, 41/239); PK-26th (77.8%, 49/221)

WAS: RW Viktor Kozlov (Groin-IR); G Brent Johnson (Hip-IR); RW Chris Clark (Wrist-IR); D Brian Pothier (Concussion-IR)

COL: C Joe Sakic (Back, fingers-IR); D Kyle Cumiskey (Shoulder-IR); LW David Jones (Shoulder-IR); D John-Michael Liles (Wrist-IR); C Paul Stastny (Forearm-IR); RW Darcy Tucker (Personal-Questionable)