Forget about the Boston Bruins' defensive issues. They've got a bigger problem at hand: figuring out Braden Holtby.
To remain unbeaten on the road, the Bruins will have to slip a puck past the Washington Capitals goaltender Thursday night - something they haven't done in quite some time.
Holtby didn't allow a goal in 180 minutes against Boston last season. He made 88 saves in three shutouts, matching the mark for most by a goaltender against one team since the 1989-90 season.
He carries a scoreless streak of 186:43 against Boston dating to March 29, 2014. If he registers another 60-minute blanking, Holtby would hold the fourth-longest shutout streak for a goalie against one team since '89-90.
Maybe more importantly, it might help him erase the memory of his last start.
Holtby was uncharacteristically bad during a 5-2 road loss against the New York Rangers on Tuesday. He surrendered five goals for the first time in 89 starts, raising his goals-against average from 1.90 to 2.25. He had allowed just nine pucks to reach the back of the net in his previous six starts.
It ended with the Capitals (8-3-0) taking their second loss in nine games.
"We'll move forward," coach Barry Trotz said. "You've just got to learn how we have to play and learn something from every game. That was our first road loss of the year, so we've got to go back home and make home a real tough place and just go forward."
The Verizon Center has been a rough spot for Boston (6-4-1). The Bruins dropped last season's final two games there and are 2-4-2 in Washington since Nov. 5, 2010. However, Boston has opened this season with five straight road wins and will try to find its mojo in the opener of a three-game trip.
The Bruins are a bit lost after reverting to the defensive form of their first seven games during a 5-3 defeat to Dallas on Tuesday. Boston had surrendered just two goals in its previous three games after allowing 29 in its opening seven.
Tuukka Rask took a step back against the Stars after allowing one goal in his previous two starts. He surrendered the five goals on just 19 shots and was even mocked by Boston fans after making an easy save late.
The veteran has been up and down so far, and terrible career numbers against the Capitals might be enough for backup Jonas Gustavsson to make his fourth start in his first year with the Bruins.
Gustavsson won each of his first three while allowing six goals and making 64 saves. He is 2-2-1 with a 2.94 GAA against Washington, but Rask is 1-6-3 with a 3.00 GAA.
No matter who is in net, the Bruins have to kill more penalties.
Dallas scored on three of four opportunities with a man advantage, and Boston has allowed power-play goals in nine games. Opponents have 12 goals on 40 power- play chances.
''It's pretty obvious. It's way too porous and too many holes,'' center Patrice Bergeron said. ''We definitely got to be a lot better.''
Help might come with the return of Max Talbot. The Bruins recalled him from the AHL on Wednesday after fellow center Chris Kelly fractured his left femur against the Stars.
"We brought in Max Talbot because No. 1, he's a penalty killer, No. 2, he's a great veteran, great leader," coach Claude Julien told the team's official website.