Having lost four straight at home, the first-place Washington Capitals probably won't mind heading out on the road. Winning at Nashville, however, hasn't proved easy for most opponents lately.
If they want a shot at the second seed in the Eastern Conference, the Capitals will need to continue their strong play away from home as 10 of their final 15 games are on the road. That stretch begins Tuesday night against the Predators, who are searching for a sixth consecutive home win.
Four straight home losses dropped Washington (40-21-6) to third in the East and a point behind New Jersey, which hosts Calgary on Tuesday. Despite Sunday's 4-3 shootout defeat to Pittsburgh, the Capitals remained in line for a second straight Southeast Division title with a 10-point lead over Florida.
If its recent play away from home in an indication, Washington could bounce back as the Capitals are 8-2-2 in their last 12 on the road after starting 7-10-2 this season.
"A game is a game. We'll play anywhere," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We just need a win right now."
Boudreau has one of the East's top offenses -- 3.22 goals per game, but his team managed only eight goals in those four home defeats. On the road, the Capitals have scored at least four goals in each of their last five, going 4-0-1, but have played away from home just once since Feb. 15 -- a 4-3 win at East-leading Boston on Feb. 28.
Despite their team's struggles, Alexander Semin extended his goal-scoring streak to six games Sunday, and Alexander Ovechkin had his league-leading 47th -- his 10th in 11 contests. Both players have a goal in each of their last two meetings with the Predators, and Semin helped Washington to a 4-3 shootout win Oct. 28 over Nashville after he had a goal and an assist during regulation.
However, defense could determine if the Capitals match their longest losing streak since Nov. 10-21, 2007. To avoid that fate, they will need better than the 16 goals they have allowed in the past four games.
Washington could also face a stiff challenge in a renewed Nashville offense that's scored 27 times in five straight home victories. Going 12-5-1 overall since Feb. 1 has kept the Predators (33-29-4) in contention for a fifth straight playoff berth, but they dropped into a tie for seventh in the West after a season-high six-game win streak was snapped with Saturday night's 4-1 loss in Philadelphia.
Nashville never responded after giving up two goals in the first 4:22 of the second period and only Martin Erat's score with 12:15 left prevented a shutout. Erat has goals in consecutive games and has six points during a four-game streak.
"No excuses," goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "We played really well for about 50 minutes or so, but we pretty much gave it away on those two goals."
Rinne is 11-3-1 with a 2.10 goals-against average since the beginning of February but has given up 11 goals in his last three starts. This will be his first appearance against Washington.
The Predators haven't won six straight at home since an eight-game streak from Jan. 6-Feb. 8, 2007. The Capitals have won consecutive meetings but are 2-3-0 with one tie all-time in Nashville.