With Alex Ovechkin back in tow, the Washington Capitals appear poised to resume their winning ways.
The visiting Capitals can build on their latest victory with a fifth consecutive win over the New Jersey Devils, who should have their No. 1 goaltender available Saturday.
Back from his one-game suspension for missing last weekend's All-Star festivities, Ovechkin scored the tiebreaking goal with 2:40 left in regulation to give Washington (36-9-4) a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday.
''He's a goal scorer,'' said Braden Holtby, who made 24 saves in his first post-All-Star Game appearance. ''That's what we need him to do. He came through in the right time.
"That's the way our team is. Every guy has their role and everyone seems to be doing it. That's Ovi's role."
Ovechkin has three of his team-leading 29 goals in his last four contests for the NHL-leading Capitals, who avoided their first three-game slide by bouncing back from Tuesday's 5-2 defeat to Florida. Bothered by a lower-body injury, Ovechkin sat out the All-Star Game and by league rules was forced to miss one game.
He admitted being rusty in his first action since Jan. 27, but found his form when it counted.
''Practicing is one thing, but when you're playing, it's a totally different thing, a different level," he said. It was a little bit hard, but at the end, I just kept rolling and we did our job.''
The Capitals have done a fine job despite the NHL's top power-play unit going 4 for 24 over the last seven games. They scored twice on five chances in a 5-3 home win over New Jersey (26-20-6) on Oct. 10.
Keith Kinkaid made 22 saves in that contest for the Devils, and had a season-high 37 in Thursday's 3-2 shootout loss at Toronto. Kinkaid made his ninth start in place of Cory Schneider, who sat with an undisclosed injury he apparently suffered while stopping 31 shots in Tuesday's 3-2 win over the Rangers.
Neither Schneider nor Devils coach John Hynes appear concerned with the injury, and the veteran netminder believes he should be ready to return for this matchup. Schneider has posted a 1.71 goals-against average while winning eight of his last 13 starts, but a 3.03 GAA during an 0-2-1 stretch against the Caps.
In pursuit of their first playoff appearance since 2011-12, the Devils blew a late 2-1 lead Thursday but managed to earn at least one point for the sixth time in seven contests.
"I think it was a valuable point to gain," Hynes said. "It was a tough, hard-fought game.
"However, we didn't necessarily play our best. We'll take it and we've got to make sure we're better going into Washington."
With a goal and an assist, veteran defenseman David Schlemko has two and four assists in five games.
Adam Henrique scored the first of his 16 goals this season against Washington but has one in the last nine.
Ovechkin has eight goals and three assists in his last 10 against New Jersey.
Though Holtby yielded three goals on 24 shots to the Devils in October, he's won four straight in the series and has a 1.29 GAA in a 6-1-0 stretch against them.