In just more than a month under Bruce Boudreau, the Washington Capitals have gone from having the worst record in the NHL to within striking distance of the Southeast Division lead.
The Capitals look to record a point in six straight games for the first time in almost two years Thursday night when they meet the Boston Bruins.
When Boudreau was hired to replace Glen Hanlon as coach on Nov. 22, the Capitals were 6-14-1 and their 13 points were the fewest in the league. Under Boudreau's more aggressive system, Washington has gone 10-5-4 to put itself back into playoff contention.
The impressive surge continued Tuesday as the Capitals completed a home-and-home sweep of Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa with a 6-3 home victory.
Defenseman Mike Green had two goals and an assist, and Alex Ovechkin set up a pair of scores as Washington improved to 3-0-2 in its last five games.
The five-game point streak is the longest for the Capitals since a 3-0-4 run from March 23-April 5, 2006.
"I think, with the win tonight, we're really starting to believe that we're a good hockey team," goalie Olaf Kolzig said. "But again, we dug ourselves such a big hole at the beginning of the season; we're just slowly but surely creeping our way back into things."
After scoring three goals or fewer in seven consecutive games, Washington totaled 14 goals in back-to-back wins over the Senators.
"I think they're starting to believe a little bit in themselves, which is really good," Boudreau said. "You look, not necessarily at our record, but at the fact that (when) other teams are scoring first we don't hang our heads, we just say ... we're going to score two or three."
Green has been one of Washington's biggest surprises with 10 goals and 21 points in 40 games. Green, who had 12 points in 70 games last season, entered Wednesday tied with Montreal's Andrei Markov for the lead among NHL defensemen with 10 goals.
Ovechkin has continued to supply the majority of the Capitals' offense, leading the team with 30 goals and 50 points. He has seven goals and five assists during a seven-game point streak.
The Bruins (19-16-4) ended a season-high six-game losing streak Tuesday with a 5-2 victory over Atlanta in the opener of a five-game homestand.
Mark Stuart snapped a second-period tie and Boston scored five unanswered goals for its first win since Dec. 15.
"I think we just decided to play," coach Claude Julien said. "That's what my message was to them right after the first period."
With Patrice Bergeron and Glen Murray -- two of Boston's top forwards -- still sidelined by injuries, the Bruins need offense from other sources to be successful. Left wing P.J. Axelsson, more noted for his checking ability, has responded with four goals in his last six games.
Tim Thomas figures to make his second straight start after he stopped 28 of 30 shots Tuesday. He is 7-0-1 with a 2.04 goals-against average in eight career starts against Washington.
Boston made a minor trade Wednesday, acquiring seven-year veteran defenseman Shane Hnidy and a sixth-round draft pick from Anaheim for forward Brandon Bochenski. The Bruins said the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Hnidy is expected to be available for Thursday's game.
The Bruins have dominated the Capitals lately, winning four straight -- all after regulation -- and have gone 8-0-1 with one tie in the past 10 meetings. Boston hasn't lost in regulation in the series since a 6-5 road defeat on Dec. 11, 2003.
The Capitals are 1-4-3 with two ties in their last 10 visits to Boston.