(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Capitals will try to avoid their longest losing streak in over two months when they welcome the Edmonton Oilers for Tuesday's clash at Verizon Center.
The Capitals had been rolling before dropping a pair of close regulation decisions in their last two trips to the ice. Washington fell Friday in Nashville by a 4-3 score in head coach Barry Trotz's return to the Music City and then lost 5-4 the following night in Dallas.
Washington lost consecutive tilts for the first time since falling to Toronto and Vancouver on Nov. 29 and Dec. 2, respectively. The Caps haven't lost three straight since a season-high five-game slide (0-4-1) from Oct. 26-Nov 4.
Even with the two setbacks over the weekend, the Capitals are still 14-3-4 over their last 21 games. They enter Tuesday tied with the New York Rangers at 56 points, but the Rangers currently are holding onto the Metropolitan Division's third and final automatic playoff bud thanks to the tiebreaker.
Washington is two points ahead of Boston for the first of the Eastern Conference's two wild card spots.
One night after Washington failed to give its head coach a win against his former team, the Caps fell 5-4 to the Stars. Washington rallied to make a game of it after falling behind by three goals, but in the end the Caps were unable to grab even a point.
Washington had trailed 3-0, but scored twice in the second period and tied the game just 21 seconds into the third when Alex Ovechkin switched to the forehand on a breakaway and snapped it in for his 25th of the year. The Stars, though, took the lead back three minutes later, as a John Klingberg wrister from the right wing was tipped to the left side by Ryan Garbutt. Antoine Roussel was there to snap it in for a 4-3 lead.
Just 16 seconds later, Jamie Benn gave the Stars some breathing room after Tyler Seguin's pass from the right wing missed its intended target and went to the left wing where Benn wrister it home.
Nicklas Backstrom completed the scoring when he made it a 5-4 game for the Caps with 3:26 left, but Washington was unable to record the equalizer.
Eric Fehr and Andre Burakovsky lit the lamp in the second period for the Capitals, while backup goaltender Justin Peters allowed all five goals on 26 shots.
"Obviously we dug ourselves a hole," said Washington coach Barry Trotz. "I thought we were better as the game went on. ... I thought there was good resiliency. We had a lot of push, a lot of chances and they had a good response."
Braden Holtby had started 21 straight games for the Caps before Peters gave him a breather on Saturday. Holtby will be back between the pipes tonight and owns a 3-1-0 record and 1.51 goals against average in his career against Edmonton.
Tonight's test marks the final game before the All-Star break for both Washington and the Oilers. While the Caps hope to avoid entering the hiatus on a three-game slide, Edmonton aims to secure its first set of consecutive wins since early November.
The Oilers, who are tied with Buffalo for last in the NHL standings with 31 points, had lost three straight in regulation before posting a shootout win Saturday against the Florida Panthers. The 3-2 win also halted Edmonton's epic franchise-record road skid at 14 games.
Nail Yakupov scored the lone goal of the shootout to give Edmonton its first victory away from Rexall Place since downing the New York Rangers on Nov. 9. That win over the Rangers also marked the last time the Oilers had won two in a row, as Edmonton had picked up a win in Buffalo two days before beating New York.
Viktor Fasth made 35 saves on 37 shots in regulation and overtime play to help Edmonton halt the 0-8-6 slide as the guest. Matt Hendricks tied the game in the third with a short-handed goal and Jordan Eberle also scored for the Oilers, who improved to 3-12-7 on the road this season.
"We all worked really hard today, so it felt good to get this win here on the road," Fasth said.
Edmonton, however, may find it difficult to add another road win tonight in D.C., where it has lost eight of its past nine games. Washington is 19-4-1 with a tie in its last 25 games against the Oilers in the nation's capital.
The clubs have split the last four meetings overall.