It has not been easy, but the Washington Capitals can't complain about their solid start to the season.
Looking to match a franchise record with their fourth straight win to open 2011-12, the Capitals try to continue their recent home dominance of the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.
For the first time in club history, Washington has started with three straight games decided beyond regulation. The latest came Thursday, when defenseman Dennis Wideman scored on the power play 2:48 into overtime for a 3-2 win at Pittsburgh.
"We got a little lucky, I think," said forward Nicklas Backstrom, who is the team's points leader with four assists. "That's hockey sometimes."
Times have been good early on for the Capitals, who have won four straight to open a season twice - 1991-92 and 1997-98. Washington may have a good chance to match that versus an Ottawa club it's gone 9-0-1 at home against following an eight-game winless streak in the series on its own ice.
Washington won three of four against the Senators (1-3-0) last season, with the teams combining for just 16 goals.
Alex Ovechkin, who scored his first of the season Thursday, has five goals with six assists in his last eight contests versus Ottawa.
Tomas Vokoun could be back in net after he stopped 39 shots against the Penguins. It was a much better effort than Monday, when he struggled during a 6-5 shootout win over Tampa Bay in his Capitals debut.
Vokoun, who went 101-108-30 with a 2.57 goals-against average over the past four seasons with Florida, is grateful to have a talented team in front to pick him up.
"That's what the team is about," Vokoun said. "It's not always going to be perfect. Not everybody is going to have their night."
He's not had many good nights while posting a 3.81 GAA during a four-game losing streak to the Senators.
Backup Michal Neuvirth, who made 28 saves in a 4-3 season-opening overtime win over Carolina last Saturday, is 3-0-0 with a 1.63 GAA versus Ottawa.
The Senators hope to do their best to put Thursday's 7-1 loss to Colorado behind them. Two nights after recording 44 shots in a 4-3 shootout victory over Minnesota, Ottawa mustered just 16 against the Avalanche.
"(Thursday's game is) over and done with," forward Nick Foligno told the Senators' official website. "We just want to move on and become a winning team. It's about doing the little things and doing them right."
The 21 goals the Senators have allowed are by far the most in the NHL.
"We have a ways to go," first-year coach Paul MacLean said.
Forward Milan Michalek leads the Senators with three goals and is second with five points. He recorded only one assist in four meetings with Washington last season.
Auld, who allowed two goals on 11 shots in a 6-5 loss at Toronto last Saturday, is 3-4-1 with a 2.32 GAA against the Capitals.