The Boston Bruins figured out how to avoid another slow start their last time out, but problems later in the game nearly prevented them from snapping a three-game losing streak.
Tim Thomas' excellence hasn't stopped at any point.
The Anaheim Ducks will likely have to solve the NHL's hottest goaltender if they hope to reverse their road woes as they continue a seven-game trip Monday night in Boston.
Bruins coach Claude Julien had been troubled by his team's poor first periods lately, especially in a 4-3 loss at Montreal on Thursday night when Boston was outshot 17-9 and outscored 3-1 in the first 20 minutes.
Boston is 12-0-0 when leading after the first period -- the only team in the NHL unbeaten in that scenario.
While the Bruins (17-10-4) charged out to a 3-0 lead in the first Saturday against Washington, they struggled later before hanging on for a 3-2 win.
"Sometimes it's a bad start and a good second and third," Julien told the Bruins' official website. "(Saturday) it was a bad third and a good first and second. So we got to put three solid periods together here sooner than later."
The one constant has been Thomas, who was especially spectacular in the third period while the desperate Capitals outshot Boston 26-2.
The NHL leader in goals-against average (1.65) and save percentage (.944), Thomas made 39 saves to improve to 15-3-3, including a point-blank denial of Alex Ovechkin in the closing seconds.
"It certainly saved us. There's no doubt about that," Julien said. "It's unfortunate. ... We were watching more than we were reacting."
The Bruins still improved to 6-1-2 in their last nine home games, outscoring opponents 30-15 in that stretch. That may not bode well for Anaheim, which looks to avoid its 40th loss in 60 road games since the start of last season.
The Ducks, though, won 6-1 on Oct. 8, 2009, the last time they visited Boston, getting two goals each from Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry against Thomas.
Anaheim (17-15-4) began its longest trip of this season with a 2-1 overtime win at Washington, but became one of two teams to lose to the New York Islanders since the start of November on Thursday.
Despite putting 45 shots on goal Saturday at Carolina, the Ducks lost 4-2, falling victim to a hat trick in the first 22 minutes by Eric Staal and a stellar goaltending performance by Cam Ward.
"We have to play that strong forecheck game, and we had it after we got motivated," coach Randy Carlyle said. "But we were down two goals, and then we got one back, and we had numerous chances, but just didn't get it across the line."
Ryan Getzlaf had both Anaheim goals, giving him five in his last four games. Goals from Getzlaf usually equate to victories for the Ducks, who are 8-2-1 when their captain scores.
Getzlaf scored one of two third-period goals in the last meeting between these teams, helping the Ducks come from behind for a 4-3 home win Jan. 13.
Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller has won both of his starts against Boston and is 4-1-0 with a 1.93 GAA in his last five starts overall.
AccuScore has powered more than 10,000 simulations for every NHL game on ESPN.com, calculating how each team's performance changes in response to game conditions and opponent's abilities. Each game is simulated and the game is replayed a minimum of 10,000 times to generate forecasted winning percentages.