(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Capitals hope to rebound from a shutout defeat when the well-rested club hosts the New Jersey Devils in Thursday's Metropolitan Division battle.
The Capitals have been idle since closing a three-game road trip on Saturday with a 3-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Washington had won three in a row before getting blanked by Ondrej Pavelec and the Jets.
Despite the loss and the recent down time, Barry Trotz's club still is holding onto the first of two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference, where they sit three points ahead of red-hot Ottawa. The Caps also are three points in back of Pittsburgh for third place in the Metro. The Pens visit Carolina tonight, while the Senators are hosting the New York Rangers.
Braden Holtby turned aside 21 shots on Saturday for the Capitals, who were shut out for the fourth time this season. Washington allowed a goal in each period and went 0-for-3 on the power play.
"I thought we were playing really good in the first period," said Trotz. "But then they got that second goal in and it seemed like we were chasing a lot. We had some quality chances, but just couldn't get anything past Pavelec."
Beginning with tonight's tilt, Washington is playing two straight and three of its next four on home ice. The Caps are 20-11-5 at Verizon Center this season.
New Jersey, meanwhile, has just about run out of steam in its playoff push after losing its last two games in regulation. The Devils, who have missed the postseason in two straight years since making it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012, are 12 points out of playoff spot in the East with only nine games left on their schedule.
The Devils were shut out 3-0 by the New York Islanders on Saturday and then lost the second part of a two-game homestand in Monday's 3-1 setback versus the Los Angeles Kings. New Jersey had won three straight before the two-game slide.
The Kings grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period and New Jersey was never able to recover. Scott Gomez cut the deficit in half in the second stanza, but Anze Kopitar restored Los Angeles' two-goal edge just over five minutes into the third.
Cory Schneider stopped 30 shots in the loss
"For us to come out like that, it's tough," said Schneider. "It was just not a good start."
New Jersey is just 13-19-3 on the road this season, but has won two straight away from the Garden State. The Devils will visit Carolina on Saturday and tonight's test begins a stretch of three road tilts in four games.
Washington has won three of four meetings versus the Devils this season, but New Jersey's lone win came on Nov. 14 in D.C., marking the club's fifth win in the last eight encounters at Verizon Center. Schneider posted a 30-save shutout in that meeting and is 3-4-0 with a 2.10 goals against average in his career against the Caps.
Holtby is 5-3-1 with a 2.01 GAA in nine lifetime outings versus the Devils.