November 08, 2014

More than a year has passed since the Washington Capitals have suffered three straight regular-season losses.

They'll be trying to prevent it from finally happening again Tuesday night, though the NHL leaders appear to have an excellent opportunity to keep that run going when they look to extend their home winning streak against the Carolina Hurricanes to four.

Washington (49-14-5) went 2-1-1 on its road trip that featured the last three games in California. It knocked off Boston in overtime and then Anaheim in a shootout to start the swing but lost to Los Angeles in OT and San Jose in the next two.

The finale was particularly disheartening as the Sharks outscored the Capitals 3-0 in the final period of Saturday's 5-2 loss.

Washington was outscored 6-0 in the first period on the trip and 8-0 in the opening 20 minutes of its last five games.

''It's really tough coming from behind every night,'' forward Justin Williams said. ''It seems we're used to it now. We need to stop thinking about it and get that first goal.''

Washington is in the bottom half of the league with a minus-0.09 goal differential per game in the first period. It's tops in the NHL in the category in the second and third, with its plus-0.49 in the final period the best by a wide margin.

"It definitely hurts us," forward T.J. Oshie told the team's official website. "It's hard playing from behind all the time. We don't get down on ourselves when it happens; we almost get up and play a little bit better. But it'd be nice to start with the first one here pretty soon."

The Capitals' 3.16 non-shootout goals per game tops the Eastern Conference, but they've hit a bit of an offensive rut of late, scoring two in four of the last five games. Washington has also allowed nine total goals in the past two.

It hasn't dropped three straight in the regular season since Feb. 22-27, 2015, but it's handled the Hurricanes lately at the Verizon Center, outscoring them 12-6 in the three consecutive victories.

The Capitals lead the season series 2-1-0, though Carolina broke a three-game skid to Washington with a 4-2 win Dec. 31.

Carolina (31-26-12) comes in on a 3-0-2 streak as it tries to keep a playoff spot within striking distance. The Hurricanes are five points out of the second wild-card spot.

However, they failed to take full advantage of lowly Buffalo on Saturday, falling 3-2 on Jack Eichel's breakaway goal with one second left in overtime.

''We didn't play too bad,'' defenseman Brett Pesce said. ''I honestly felt we got better as the game went on. We got some momentum in the second and third. We just got an unfortunate bounce.''

Phillip Di Giuseppe scored and has two goals and three assists in his last four games. He scored a goal Dec. 31.

Oshie's power-play goal Saturday was his 10th of the season, extending a single-season career best. He also matched his career high with his 21st goal by scoring for a second straight game.

Braden Holtby is expected to return to the net after Philipp Grubauer started in San Jose. Holtby has gone 4-1-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average in his last five starts against the Hurricanes, beating them 4-1 with 18 saves Oct. 17.

Eddie Lack gets the start for Carolina, his second straight against Washington. He made 30 saves Dec. 31.

The Hurricanes have killed off 15 of 16 short-handed situations over the last seven games as they get set to face the top power-play team in the East at 23.8 percent.

Carolina leading scorer Jeff Skinner has four goals and four assists over his last six games.

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