Since winning 23 of its first 28 home games this season, Washington has, at times, looked lost at the Verizon Center.
Recently, though, the Capitals have found their way on the road.
Before heading on a five-game trip, Washington will try to snap a four-game home losing streak as it faces a Carolina Hurricanes team battling for one of the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spots.
The Southeast Division-leading Capitals (42-21-6) won their second straight overall and fifth in a row on the road Thursday night, defeating Philadelphia 2-1. Washington last won five consecutive road games from Feb. 14-March 7, 2001.
“On the road, we’re not trying to impress anybody. We’re just trying to win,” Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. “At home sometimes you get too cute and try to make the great play. Whatever the situation is, I’d like to continue this formula.”
Boudreau’s team has bounced back to win in Nashville and Philadelphia after starting this month with four consecutive losses—all at home. The Capitals haven’t won at the Verizon Center since a 4-3 victory over Atlanta on Feb. 26.
Alex Ovechkin has remained hot even through that home skid. The reigning MVP extended his point streak to nine games Thursday, recording an assist and scoring the game-winning goal - his 10th of the season.
Ovechkin, who has six goals and six assists during his point streak, leads the NHL with 48 goals.
“Ovechkin’s the last guy you want alone in front of your goalie,” Philadelphia coach John Stevens said.
Ovechkin has a goal and seven assists as the Capitals and Hurricanes have split four meetings this season. He needs three points Saturday to reach 400 in his four-year career.
Alex Semin extended his point streak to eight with an assist on Ovechkin’s goal against the Flyers. Semin has five goals and four assists in three games against Carolina in 2008-09, including a two-goal, three-assist performance in a 5-1 victory on Nov. 12.
Since that game, the Hurricanes have won both meetings, including a 5-2 win in Washington on March 3.
That victory started a four-game win streak, but Carolina (36-28-6) has since dropped two straight on the road to fall into a tie with the New York Rangers for seventh in the East.
If the Hurricanes are going to inch closer to securing their first playoff berth since 2006, they will likely have to get past Jose Theodore. The first-year Capital is 2-0-0 with a 0.98 GAA in his last two starts.
“We were trying too hard to score goals (at home) and now we’re focusing on our defensive game and it’s paying off,” said Theodore, who has dropped four straight starts at home.
Washington has allowed 4.0 goals per game during its skid at home compared to 1.6 on its winning streak away from the Verizon Center.
The Capitals have surrendered just two power-play goals in their opponents’ last 19 chances.
Carolina, meanwhile, has scored at least one power-play goal in seven straight games and has converted 27.3 percent (6-of-22) with the man advantage in its last five road games. Ray Whitney had the Hurricanes’ only power-play goal in four chances in Thursday’s 3-2 loss at Dallas.
“We looked like a team that was playing our fifth (game) in seven (nights) and got in at 3 in the morning,” said Carolina coach Paul Maurice, whose team went 8-2-0 prior to back-to-back losses at Chicago and Dallas. “We had trouble moving the puck out of our own end.”
Hurricanes center Eric Staal has five goals and nine assists in his last eight games, and has one goal in each of the last two games against Washington.