The Washington Capitals will try to push their winning streak to eight games on Tuesday night, but do so against a Toronto Maple Leafs team that has a chance to end their club-record playoff drought at seven straight seasons.
The Capitals have won seven straight, marking the club's longest winning streak since taking nine games in a row from Feb. 26-March 15, 2011. Thanks to the hot streak, Washington enters Tuesday with a four-point edge over Winnipeg for first place in the Southeast Division. The Jets, who host Tampa Bay on Tuesday, have six games remaining in the regular season -- the same amount as Washington.
The latest victory for the Caps came Saturday, as Mike Green scored with 2:01 left in OT gave the Washington Capitals a 6-5 win over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.
Although the contest ended in dramatic fashion, the game appeared to be headed for a rout early on as Washington led the contest by a 5-1 score before blowing that sizeable advantage. Tampa Bay scored three of its final four goals in the third period to send the game to the extra session.
On the winning goal, Mike Ribeiro held the puck along the low right circle and fed it back to the high slot for Green, who blasted a shot past Mathieu Garon for the win.
"Guess there is no really easy explanation," Washington head coach Adam Oates said of Tampa's comeback. "First of all, they are a good team. And everything went our way in the first period. You lose a little bit of momentum because it was a little too easy, you get a little flat and all of a sudden, here they come. You start sinking yourself and before you know it, it's happening pretty fast."
Alex Ovechkin and Eric Fehr each posted a goal and an assist while Braden Holtby had 35 saves in the win. Ovechkin now has 17 goals over his last 15 games and is one ahead of Tampa's Steven Stamkos for the league lead with 27 goals.
Washington will try to complete a three-game homestand tonight with its fifth straight win in D.C. The Caps are 12-8-0 at Verizon Center this season.
The Capitals will certainly face a motivated opponent tonight as the Maple Leafs can lock up their first playoff berth since 2004 with a victory as well as a regulation loss by the Jets.
Toronto has been surging down the stretch, going 4-0-1 in its previous five games with points in 13 of its last 14 overall (9-1-4).
The Maple Leafs might feel as though they escaped with a victory last night, beating the New Jersey Devils 2-0 despite getting outshot 32-13. They had just five shots through the first two periods of play, but Phil Kessel broke the deadlock with a power-play goal with 6:32 left to play and Jay McClement added an empty-net tally.
James Reimer made 31 saves for his third shutout of the season and ninth of his career.
"We made the most of our chances when we got them," Reimer said.
Toronto, fifth overall in the East, is five points up on the sixth-place Ottawa Senators and now trails the Boston Bruins by just three points for the fourth spot.
The Maple Leafs could have forward Joffrey Lupul back in the lineup on Tuesday after he sat out his fifth contest in a row last night due to a concussion. Lupul, who missed 25 games earlier this season because of a broken forearm, has notched eight goals and 14 points in just 10 games this season.
Toronto is 2-0 against the Caps in 2013, but Washington has claimed five of the last eight meetings overall. The Leafs have dropped five of their last seven games in D.C.