Bruce Boudreau won’t say how he’s revitalized the Washington Capitals’ anemic power play, but there’s no arguing with the results.
On Monday night, the Capitals will try to stay perfect under their interim coach and match their longest winning streak of the season as they meet the surging Buffalo Sabres, who are looking for their fifth straight victory.
Washington (8-14-1) has dropped five of its last six at home to Buffalo, managing just seven goals in the defeats - which included two shutouts.
The Capitals also will be looking to make amends for one of their worst games of the season, a 7-3 loss at Buffalo (10-10-1) on Oct. 13. Jaroslav Spacek and Derek Roy each scored twice and Brian Campbell had a career-high four assists as the Sabres registered a season-high 53 shots on goal.
But that effort came with Glen Hanlon behind the Washington bench. Since Boudreau took over for the fired Hanlon on Thursday, Washington has made significant strides, especially on special teams.
The Capitals followed up Friday’s 4-3 overtime win against Philadelphia with a 5-2 victory over Southeast Division-leading Carolina on Saturday behind power-play goals from Mike Green, Alexander Ovechkin and Michael Nylander.
Nylander added two assists.
“The power play is a great equalizer if you can be successful at it,” Boudreau said. “We haven’t tweaked it a lot, only we’re being more aggressive.”
Under Boudreau, the Capitals are 4-for-7 with the man advantage. They were 4-for-30 in their final seven games under Hanlon en route to a 1-5-1 record.
Despite their recent resurgence, the Capitals still have a league-low 17 points and are tied with Toronto for fewest wins.
Ovechkin and Nylander - who scored in last month’s loss to the Sabres - will try to extend lengthy point streaks. Ovechkin has seven goals and three assists in an eight-game run overall, while Nylander has three goals and eight assists in a six-game streak versus Buffalo.
The two have also combined for 48 of Washington’s 150 points this season.
Buffalo extended its winning streak and completed a home-and-home sweep with a 3-0 win over the Canadiens in Montreal on Saturday. Making a rare start in goal ahead of Ryan Miller, Montreal native Jocelyn Thibault stopped 24 shots against his former team.
“It’s always special any time I get a chance to play against Montreal, even more here, and I was happy that (coach Lindy Ruff) gave me a chance to play tonight,” said Thibault, who played for the Canadiens from 1995-98. “I think the guys knew that this game meant something special to me, coming back home.”
Miller, who is 8-9-1 with a 2.60 goals-against average after posting a career-high 40 wins last season, will likely go for his first road win in nearly a month - he’s 0-3-1 with a 2.48 goals-against average since winning at Tampa Bay on Oct. 27.
He hasn’t lost five straight road starts since Feb. 4, 2003-Oct. 8, 2005, and is 2-0-0 with a 3.29 GAA in three career starts in Washington. In his last start there on April 7, Miller stopped 26 shots in a 2-0 win.
Another reason for the Sabres’ recent resurgence has been the play of Thomas Vanek, who has two goals and four assists during a four-game point streak. The left wing had two assists in the win over the Capitals last month.