The New York Islanders have gotten off to quick starts in each of their last two games, but they let points slip away while failing to hold leads.
It may get worse if they can't figure out how to slow Alex Ovechkin and the surging Washington Capitals.
The Islanders look to avoid a third consecutive defeat Monday night as the Capitals visit Long Island seeking a fifth victory in six tries.
New York (23-11-1) was riding a four-game winning streak when it faced Montreal on Tuesday, but it allowed the final three goals in a 3-1 defeat. The Islanders then took a three-goal lead into the third period Saturday before falling 4-3 in a shootout to Buffalo.
John Tavares scored twice against the Sabres to give him three goals and an assist during a three-game point streak, but he wasn't concerned about his personal effort.
"These are two points we should have held," Tavares said. "Certainly it's frustrating when you give up a three-goal lead like that. Especially because I didn't think we did a whole lot wrong except for the breakdowns that led to the goals."
New York allowed a short-handed goal and failed on both opportunities with the man advantage. It is 0 for 13 on the power play over its last five.
"Special teams were a big factor," coach Jack Capuano said. "We didn't get the job done (and) they did on their end."
Tavares scored in overtime to help overcome two goals from Ovechkin in a 3-2 win over Washington on Nov. 26. Ovechkin scored again two days later as the Capitals beat the Islanders 5-2.
Ovechkin has six goals and two assists in his last six against New York, and he'll look to add to that run as Washington tries to win back-to-back games.
The Capitals (18-11-6) are coming off a 3-0 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday, as Eric Fehr scored twice. They've netted the first goal in four of their last five.
''You could tell they were pressing a little bit, and I think that's when we play our best, when we get a lead,'' Fehr said. ''We try to get the other team playing out of their comfort zone. I think we frustrated them a little bit with the style of play we had.''
Braden Holtby made 31 saves for his second shutout in his last four starts. He improved to 8-1-2 with a 1.80 goals-against average over his last 11 appearances.
"I thought we did a great job of everything in the (defensive) zone," Holtby said. "We know we're capable of doing that every night. I think that's a good eye-opener to know we can do that to a team like the Penguins who are that offensively gifted, and that'll do a lot for us as we move forward."
Holtby stopped 58 of 63 shots while starting each of the first two meetings against New York. He's 6-1-1 with a 2.06 GAA in eight career starts against the Islanders and could get the nod again with Washington's next game being the Winter Classic against Chicago on Jan. 1 at Nationals Park.
New York goaltender Jaroslav Halak has been placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, and Kevin Poulin made 23 saves Saturday after being recalled from the AHL.
Chad Johnson could get the call for this contest, though, despite going 5-5-0 with a 3.65 GAA in 10 starts.