Surging Wild visit Capitals

( - The Minnesota Wild hope to continue a superb second half of the season when they visit the Washington Capitals for Thursday's battle at Verizon Center.

The Wild began their surge into a playoff spot in January and the club boasts a 16-3-2 record over the last 21 trips to the ice.

As a result of the terrific stretch, Minnesota is leading Los Angeles and San Jose by three points for the final playoff spot in the West and also is just one point behind Winnipeg for the first of the conference's two wild card berths. The Kings are hosting Montreal tonight, but the Jets and Sharks are both idle on Thursday.

Minnesota enters the start of a two-game road trip riding a three-game winning streak and hopes to keep it going tonight in D.C. before capping the brief trek Friday night at Carolina.

The Wild recorded a home shootout win Tuesday against Ottawa. Matt Dumba scored both goals for Minnesota in regulation and Charlie Coyle netted the shootout winner.

"It was a good win tonight," said Dumba. "It was really fun to play in."

Devan Dubnyk, who has been a big part of Minnesota's turnaround since coming over in a trade with Arizona in January, made a franchise record 21st consecutive start. The reigning NHL player of the month turned aside 31 shots for the win.

It's unclear if Dubnyk will start both games over the next two nights, or if backup Darcy Kuemper will get a shot in net. Kuemper, who was injured when Dubnyk was acquired, hasn't started since Jan. 6 and his last appearance came in relief of Dubnyk on Jan. 20 in Detroit.

Dubnyk is 16-3-1 with a 1.65 goals against average with the Wild this season.

Washington is kicking off a five-game homestand tonight and will try to begin the stay in D.C. by posting a third consecutive victory.

The Capitals beat Toronto and Columbus to begin March and registered nine goals over the two victories. Alex Ovechkin scored twice for Washington in Tuesday's win over the Blue Jackets, helping the Caps hold off Columbus for a 5-3 decision at Nationwide Arena.

Ovechkin has 10 goals in his last 10 games and is leading the NHL with 43 tallies. He also is tied with teammate Nicklas Backstrom for the league lead in points with 67.

Eric Fehr, Tom Wilson and Marcus Johansson also lit the lamp in the road win. Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Chimera each tallied two assists and Braden Holtby made 27 saves for the Capitals, who jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first and never allowed Columbus to get closer than one goal of the lead after that.

"I liked our start," Washington head coach Barry Trotz said. "We got some big saves from (Holtby)."

Holtby is 2-1-0 with a 2.29 GAA in three career starts against Minnesota and is expected to start tonight.

The Wild own a 2-1-1 record over their last four games against the Capitals, but Washington has claimed four straight in D.C. Minnesota last won in the nation's capitals on Nov. 21, 2002.