The Washington Capitals look to reach the .500 mark for the first time this season on Saturday afternoon when they try to extend their recent dominance of the New York Islanders.
The Capitals lost their first four games of the season and stood at just 2-8-1 through their first 11 games. However, they have won eight of 11 since and picked up a third straight victory on Thursday with a 7-1 thumping of the Florida Panthers to move to 10-11-1 on the year.
Washington set a season high for goals in a game and led 4-0 just 8:10 into the game. Alex Ovechkin, Wojtek Wolski and Mike Ribeiro all had a goal and two assists, while John Erskine and John Carlson joined Wolski and Ribeiro as first-period goal scorers.
It was the second quickest that the Caps had scored four goals into a game according to the Elias Sports Bureau, behind only a Jan. 21, 1986 meeting with the Minnesota North Stars in which Washington scored four goals in the game's first 6:49.
Ovechkin scored in the second before Eric Fehr and Mathieu Perreault added tallies in the final frame.
"The guys are playing better and good things are happening. ... All in all, in the last three weeks we've only had one bad game," Capitals head coach Adam Oates said.
It was plenty of offense for Braden Holtby, who made 29 saves in his 11th straight start. He has a 2.08 goals-against average over that span, the longest string of consecutive starts for a Capitals goaltender since Olaf Kolzig made 16 in a row from Oct. 17-Nov. 22, 2003.
That should have Holtby in the net again today against the Islanders, who the Capitals have beaten in 13 of the previous 16 meetings. They have taken eight of the last 10 on Long Island.
New York closes out a seven-game homestand and is 2-2-2 on the stay. The Islanders failed to secure a third straight victory on Thursday, but did extend their point streak to four in a row (2-0-2) with a 2-1 overtime loss to the Rangers.
The Isles kept the Rangers off the board until Rick Nash put home a game-tying tally with 5:23 left in regulation. Michael Grabner then took a costly hooking penalty 21 seconds into overtime, leading to the winner for the Blueshirts.
Grabner scored the Isles' goal and Evgeni Nabokov made 35 saves.
"Nabby played great tonight," said Islanders center John Tavares. "We allowed a tough one to tie it. We kept it going into overtime and [the game-winner] was just an unfortunate break."
Isles defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky missed a second consecutive game due to a personal matter in his native Slovakia. However, he will reportedly return to the club in time to play against the Capitals.