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Game preview: Capitals vs. Panthers

Friday, January 29, 2010; D03

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Verizon Center.

Nearing a record roll: With a win, the Capitals can stretch their winning streak to nine, which would be their longest since Bryan Murray coached the 1983-84 edition to 10 in a row. Washington is averaging more than five goals per game during that time and has received goals from 15 players, including seven from Alex Ovechkin and six from third-liners Eric Fehr, Brendan Morrison and Jason Chimera. A regulation win would give Washington a 22-point edge over the second-place Atlanta Thrashers in the Southeast Division with 28 games remaining.

Injury update: Veteran goaltender José Theodore returned to practice Thursday after straining a hip flexor in the first period against the Islanders on Tuesday. The team also returned Braden Holtby to the minor league Hershey Bears, meaning Theodore, who has won six straight games, can suit up against the Panthers. "I felt better quicker than I thought," Theodore said. He likely will back up Michal Neuvirth, who has stopped 69 of 72 shots since being pulled against the Panthers on Jan. 13.

Visitors' view: Since the Panthers coughed up a 4-1 lead and lost, 5-4, in a shootout when the teams last met, they've gone 5-1-1 despite scoring only 14 goals during that span. Offense might prove to be even harder to come by now that they've lost leading scorer Nathan Horton for four to six weeks with a broken left leg.

-- Tarik El-Bashir

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