The Ottawa Senators were able to bounce back when their team-record winning streak ended last weekend. The Washington Capitals, however, will likely be in for a challenge as they try to do the same.
Coming off their first defeat in a month, the Capitals look to avoid a fourth consecutive road loss to the Senators on Thursday night in a matchup of the two hottest teams in the Eastern Conference.
Three wins shy of matching the NHL record for consecutive victories, Washington (41-12-7) had its franchise-high 14-game winning streak snapped Wednesday in a 6-5 overtime loss at Montreal. The Capitals hadn't lost since falling 7-4 at Tampa Bay on Jan. 12.
Washington didn't go quietly, scoring three third-period goals to force overtime before the Canadiens won it with 8 seconds left in the extra session. Despite the final outcome, the Capitals have earned points in 18 of 19 games to increase their total to a league-best 89.
"It's obviously disappointing," said Capitals defenseman Mike Green, who had a goal and an assist Wednesday. "We really wanted to push and keep this thing going. I think it builds character for a team."
Ottawa (34-22-4) had its team-record 11-game winning streak snapped in a 5-0 loss at Toronto on Saturday, but bounced back Tuesday at home, beating Calgary 3-2.
Even though both streaks are over, that won't take much luster off this matchup of top contenders.
"We're looking forward to it," Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips told the Senators' official Web site. "Both teams are playing well right now and we're just looking for a good effort and trying to keep this thing going."
Washington boasts the game's best offensive player in Alex Ovechkin and appears in good shape to earn the top seed in the East, but the Capitals haven't won at Ottawa since a wild 8-6 victory Dec. 29, 2007.
Ovechkin had four goals with an assist in that contest, but has only one assist during Washington's three-game road skid against the Senators. All three of those matchups have been decided by one goal, and two of them have gone to overtime.
Ottawa has won a season-high six in a row at home overall, outscoring its opponents 19-8 during that stretch. The Senators' 22-8-3 record at Scotiabank Place is a big reason they're tied with Buffalo for the Northeast Division lead.
"We should be proud of what we've done here so far and hopefully we can carry on before the (Olympic) break and come back with a good mindset," Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson said.
Jason Spezza scored for the 10th time in as many games Tuesday for the Senators, but has just one assist in his last seven contests versus Washington.
After having his nine-game winning streak snapped at Toronto, Brian Elliott made 27 saves to earn the win Tuesday against the Flames. Elliott, who has a 1.59 goals-against average during a 10-1-0 stretch, is 2-0-0 with a 3.77 lifetime GAA against the Capitals.
Washington's Jose Theodore made 26 saves in a 5-2 home win over Ottawa in the teams' last meeting Jan. 7. Though Theodore has lost four of his last five starts at Ottawa, he's won his last nine starts overall while posting a 2.65 GAA. He allowed four goals on 25 shots in relief of Michal Neuvirth on Wednesday.
Brooks Laich had a hat trick in the loss at Montreal, while Nicklas Backstrom scored his 26th goal and Ovechkin had two assists to extend his point streak to eight games. Ovechkin has nine goals and nine assists during his run.