Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals will try to extend their longest winning streak of the season to five games when they visit the first-place Montreal Canadiens for Monday's clash at the Bell Centre.
The Capitals have used a 4-0 record in April to open a two-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets for the top spot in the Southeast Division. The Jets, who have played one more game than Washington, are hosting the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.
Ovechkin has sparked the Capitals during their winning streak, scoring five goals during the four-game stretch. The two-time Hart Trophy winner also has tallied 15 times over the last 12 games and Washington is 9-2-1 in those contests.
Although he scored just 10 times in his first 27 games of the season, Ovechkin is now tied with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos for the NHL lead with 25 goals on the year.
Ovechkin scored twice on Sunday to help the Capitals record a 4-2 win over the visiting Lightning. Joel Ward netted the game-winner late in the second period for Washington, which hasn't won five in a row since opening the 2011-12 season with a 7-0 record.
Ward also registered an assist in Sunday's win, while Michal Neuvirth stopped 28 shots in the victory.
"I thought we played great in the second period and we stuck to our plan in the third," Neuvirth said. "Obviously, it's a huge two points for us."
To keep their hot streak going, however, the Capitals will have to beat the Northeast Division leaders on the road. Montreal recorded a 4-1 win in Washington on Jan. 24, ending a six-game losing streak in this series.
Washington is 10-9-2 on the road this season and has won four straight and five of its last six games at the Bell Centre. The Caps have claimed seven of nine in the series overall.
However, the Canadiens enter Tuesday with wins in five of their last six games and are coming off Saturday's important win over its main rival for the division title.
Montreal held on for a 2-1 victory against visiting Boston on Saturday night to extend its lead atop the Northeast to three points over the Bruins. Boston has since closed the gap to one after Monday's win over Carolina, but the Bruins are idle on Tuesday.
Carey Price made 26 saves for the Canadiens, who won three of the four meetings against the rival Bruins this season.
"It's obviously two big ones. We're battling for the top spot. The playoffs are coming up soon and we're just trying to set the tempo for the rest of the season going into the playoffs," Price said.
Alex Galchenyuk and Michael Ryder scored for the Canadiens, who are also three points behind Pittsburgh for the Eastern Conference's top seed.
The Canadiens are 13-4-3 as the host this season and are completing a three- game homestand on Tuesday.
In other news for the Habs, Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ligament in his left knee. Emelin was injured during the first period of Saturday's win over the Bruins when he collided with Milan Lucic. In 38 games this season, the second-year blueliner posted three goals and nine assists.