The Washington Capitals swept the state of California and now return home Monday to put their six-game winning streak on the line against the slumping Columbus Blue Jackets.
Washington finished its four-game road trip Friday with a 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. The Caps began the trip with a win in Detroit followed by victories in San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim.
That was just the second time in team history that Washington won all three games in California. Overall, the six wins have come in just 10 nights as the Capitals lead the NHL with 49 points.
"It's the depth we have, from our top line to our fourth-line guys, and contributions from all six defensemen and both goaltenders," coach Todd Reirden told the media after the victory over Anaheim. "It's what it's all about, and then it's about not letting down the guy that's sitting next to you. That's what we've established now, and we're playing close to our identity."
Travis Boyd scored the first goal, and even though the Ducks rallied to tie the game early in the third period, Washington pulled out the 3-2 victory.
"We just talked about finishing this road trip off the right way," Boyd said on the team's website. "We talked about how in Caps history I don't think we've gone through California with three straight wins. I think we all wanted to obviously finish it off the right way. It was a hard-fought game, and an absolute battle."
Washington goalie Braden Holtby made a number of tough stops to earn the victory. He's 15-2-4 this season and 14-1-2 in his past 17 starts to anchor the defense.
The Blue Jackets are coming off a 4-1 loss to Florida on Saturday, a game that began a four-game road trip that will take the team to Washington, Pittsburgh and Ottawa. Columbus has dropped four straight games and six of its last eight.
This will be the first time Columbus and Washington have played this season.
The Blue Jackets have struggled on offense during this slide, while Washington is the top-scoring team in the NHL.
Columbus fell behind 18 seconds into the Florida game and never caught up. Coach John Tortorella said his team is getting chances but just not scoring goals -- and that needs to change.
"We need a big play at a key time. We don't get it," Tortorella told reporters after the Florida loss. "I think we're playing good hockey, but we don't finish and it's the same result. You're done."
Slow starts are another problem, as the Blue Jackets are 0-10-3 when allowing the opening goal.
Alexander Wennberg was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. Scott Harrington also was a healthy scratch for a second consecutive game. Also, Emil Bemstrom sustained an upper-body injury against the Panthers and did not return. There was no update on his condition as of Sunday morning.
--Field Level Media