Caps visit Panthers aiming to extend road run

( - The Washington Capitals will take aim at a fourth consecutive road victory when they visit the Florida Panthers for Tuesday's clash at BB&T Center.

The Capitals enter Tuesday on a 4-0-1 point streak, a stretch that began with a perfect 3-0 road trip. Washington hopes to continue its winning ways on the road tonight when it kicks off another three-game swing that begins a run of six away games in seven outings.

Washington hopes to continue its dominance of the Panthers this evening. The Capitals are 10-0-1 in the last 11 encounters in this series overall and Florida has lost four of the last five meetings on home ice.

The Caps recently earned a split on a two-game homestand, dropping Thursday's overtime decision against Columbus before downing the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 on Saturday behind the first career hat trick from Nicklas Backstrom.

Backstrom scored his sixth, seventh and eighth goals of the season to stake Washington to a 3-0 lead against the Bolts. Tampa tallied twice in the final five minutes of regulation to make it a one-goal game, but Eric Fehr sealed the win for the Caps with an empty-netter at 19:21 of the third.

"It's a great feeling. It doesn't happen a lot that I score three goals in a game," said Backstrom. It was fun. The biggest thing is that we got two points. That is what we needed."

Braden Holtby stopped 26 shots for the win, while Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson each supplied two assists for the Capitals.

Washington is holding onto the Metropolitan Division's third automatic playoff spot, but is only one point ahead of the New York Rangers for that distinction. The Rangers play Tuesday night in Calgary.

Florida. which is tied with the Rangers for the last wild card berth in the Eastern Conference, recently went 1-1-1 on a three-game road trip. The Panthers are home for just one night before heading out for road dates in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The Panthers have alternated losses and wins since the start of December, owning a 3-2-2 record this month.

After beating Detroit in a shootout on Friday, the Panthers were handed a 4-3 overtime setback in Buffalo to close their swing. Florida dug itself out of a 2-0 hole against the Sabres and grabbed a 3-2 lead when Jussi Jokinen scored just 57 seconds into the third period.

However, Brian Gionta would even the score for Buffalo at 8:27 of the third before Nikita Zadorov ended the contest just 29 seconds into the extra session.

Sean Bergenheim and Jimmy Hayes scored second-period goals for the Panthers. Florida backup Al Montoya made 28 saves, but he failed to stop the only shot he faced in OT.

"It seems like it's common ground these last couple of games in that first period we start digging ourselves a hole," Montoya said.

Roberto Luongo expects to return to the starting role for the Panthers tonight. He is 19-10-0 with a 2.29 goals against average in his career against Washington.

Holtby is sporting a perfect 6-0 record and a lifetime 2.69 GAA against Florida.