Ducks-Capitals Preview

The Associated Press

The Anaheim Ducks' franchise-best eight-game winning streak has vaulted them to the top of the NHL.

They'll try to stay there Monday night as they face the Washington Capitals in coach Bruce Boudreau's return to the Verizon Center.

Anaheim (26-7-5) pushed its winning streak to eight by rallying from a 3-1 deficit entering the third period against the New York Islanders on Saturday, scoring the last four goals.

"We talked after the second of just continuing to play our game," Boudreau said. "We were very calm about it and knew if we got one quickly, we'd have a great chance."

The Ducks are 9-0-2 in their last 11, and their latest victory pushed them one point ahead of Chicago for the highest point total in the league. The Blackhawks also play Monday.

Ryan Getzlaf led the way with three goals and an assist while Kyle Palmieri had a goal and an assist for the second straight game. Corey Perry finished with three assists.

"Those goals feel really, really good," Palmieri said. "We find ways to win and tonight was another example of our patience and skill."

These teams last met Nov. 1, 2011, a 5-4 Washington overtime victory.Boudreau was behind the Capitals' bench for it, but he was dismissed later that month. He'll be making his first return to the place where he coached for four-plus seasons and guided Washington to at least 48 wins three times.

Frederick Andersen improved to 9-1-0 on Saturday to become the third goaltender in league history to earn at least nine wins in his first 10 career starts.

Jonas Hiller had been in goal for the previous five wins and hasn't allowed more than two goals in his last seven starts. He's 6-0-1 in that span with a 1.80 goals-against average.

The Capitals (19-13-4), however, have roughed him up as he's posted a 4.04 GAA in three career matchups.

If Hiller starts, facing a red-hot Alex Ovechkin might make it tough for him to improve that number. The NHL goal leader has scored eight times in his last six games with one in four straight. He has 14 points in seven career games against the Ducks.

Ovechkin's 30th goal of the season in a 5-4 overtime loss to New Jersey on Saturday tied him with Nicklas Backstrom for the team point lead with 41.

The Capitals, struggling to find consistency, let a 3-1 lead entering the third period slip away after winning 4-2 over Carolina on Friday.

"Three out of four points on the weekend is not too bad," forward Jason Chimera told the team's official website. "So we have to look at it positively. Obviously it was disappointing, but we have to move on and look at the bright spots."

Goaltender Braden Holtby hasn't been one of them lately. After allowing five goals against the Devils, he has a 5.93 GAA in his last three games.

Washington's penalty kill has also been lacking, allowing five goals in 13 short-handed situations over the last three games.

They'll try to fix that against the second-best offensive team in the Eastern Conference.

"Let's just think about hockey for one more day because we're playing the hottest team in the league, a really good team," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "Just keep it on your minds before we go break for Christmas."

Washington has won its last two meetings with Anaheim, with the teams combining for 22 goals in those contests.

Capitals forward Brooks Laich hopes to return Monday after missing the last 11 games with a lower-body injury.