Bruins-Capitals Preview

The Associated Press

A rare scoring slump has the Boston Bruins on their first losing streak in nearly two months. A visit to the Washington Capitals might aid their offense but might not help end their skid.

The Bruins will try to avoid a season high-tying third straight defeat when they play at the Verizon Center for the second time in less than two weeks Sunday.

Boston (32-16-2) is among the league's top offensive teams with 3.42 goals per game but has manged to score only once over its last two contests. The Bruins were kept off the scoreboard until Joe Corvo tallied with 6:45 remaining Saturday in a 2-1 home loss to Pittsburgh.

"I don't know if we're running into hot goaltenders or we're just not getting enough people in front of the net, but we have to figure out a way to score some more goals," center Tyler Seguin said.

Boston hasn't had a problem scoring goals against Washington, tallying three or more in six consecutive matchups. The Bruins, though, have had problems at the other end of the ice during their past two visits to the Verizon Center.

Boston has lost both games by 5-3 scores, including one on Jan. 24 following a visit to the White House. The Capitals' Mathieu Perreault scored the tiebreaker in the third period to complete his only hat trick and former Bruin Dennis Wideman added an empty-netter.

Washington (27-20-4) is 7-1-1 in its last nine home meetings with Boston and 8-1-0 in its last nine overall at the Verizon Center. The Capitals will return home after avoiding their first three-game skid in two months.

After falling 4-2 at Southeast Division leader Florida on Wednesday, Washington moved within a point of the Panthers with a 3-0 win in Montreal on Saturday.

Alexander Semin converted a penalty shot and assisted on Matt Hendricks' goal in the third period. Tomas Vokoun made 30 saves for his third shutout of the season and his team's second win in six games (2-2-2).

"We needed the two points and we played a pretty good game," Vokoun said. "We played smart and we were fortunate enough to get a one-goal lead and we didn't give them much."

Alex Ovechkin returned from a three-game suspension in the win and was looking forward to the matchup with Boston. The Capitals star has just one goal and two assists in his last five games against the Bruins and hasn't faced them since Dec. 18, 2010.

"I can't wait to play (Sunday)," said Ovechkin, who also skipped the All-Star game Jan. 29 in Ottawa. "I feel good, I feel fresh, and that's what I missed for 10 days."

Boston's Patrice Bergeron, meanwhile, has provided a little more production in the series with one goal and six assists over his last four matchups. His 24 career points (six goals, 18 assists) against Washington are the most against a non-divisional foe.

With Tuukka Rask's struggles during the previous visit to Washington, the Bruins could start Tim Thomas again Sunday to help avoid the team's first three-game skid since Oct. 22-29. Thomas is 4-0-0 with a 2.11 goals-against average in his last five games against Washington, while Rask is 0-2-1 with a 3.45 GAA in three career matchups.

Capitals coach Dale Hunter might stick with Vokoun after his bounce-back performance, but he's 1-3-0 with a 3.01 GAA in his last four against Boston. Michal Neuvirth, though, has fared worse in four all-time matchups, going 0-2-0 with a 3.91 GAA.

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