Capitals right at home, face Canucks

WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals are feasting on home cooking as they welcome the struggling Vancouver Canucks to Capital One Arena on Tuesday night.

Washington (26-13-3) has won nine straight homes games, the longest such streak in the NHL this season.

They are not too shabby overall either, going 12-2-2 since Dec. 2.

On Sunday, Nicklas Backstrom’s overtime goal gave the Capitals their fourth straight win, 4-3 over the St. Louis Blues.

Coming off a four-day break, the Capitals trailed 2-1 after two periods and allowed a late tying goal before Backstrom’s heroics against a St. Louis team playing the second of back-to-backs.

“There’s obviously a little bit of rust, but it’s not really an excuse,” Braden Holtby, who finished with 31 saves, told the Washington Post. “It’s something we’ve wanted to get better at, playing on a few days’ rest. In some ways, we did better, and in some ways, we didn’t. But the main thing is we got a win.”

Washington has played overtime or in a shootout in seven of its last nine games, going 5-0-2.

“Maybe not the best game for us execution-wise and system-wise,” Backstrom told NHL.com of Sunday’s win. “But we can build off this. Now we’re playing every other day before the (NHL All-Star Game) break (from Jan. 26-30) again. Just got to keep going.”

The Capitals have played their best hockey when games are every other day, as are in their current three-game homestand.

Vancouver (16-20-6) brings a four-game losing streak (0-3-1) into D.C. following Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Canadiens. The Canucks rallied from a 2-0 deficit with Michael Del Zotto tying the game early in the third period. However, Montreal then scored three straight goals.

“We weren’t happy with our play the first two periods but going into the third, we said, ‘we’re still in this hockey game, we’ve got a chance for the two points’,” Del Zotto told NHL.com. “We come back and tie it up, we’ve got to find a way to at least come out with one point there. A disappointing game for us tonight, especially after how we played yesterday.”

Daniel Sedin had a goal and an assist and Anders Nilsson made 40 saves for the Canucks, who dropped a 3-2 shootout decision at Toronto on Saturday to kick off a seven-game road trip.

“The guys are battling, for sure. That’s really good to see, but I feel like we need to get that first win out of the way, and then we’ll be a lot better,” Sedin told NHL.com.

The Canucks, 2-10-2 over their last 14 games, got forward Sven Baertschi (eight goals, 10 assists) back against Montreal. He missed 11 games because of a broken jaw.

Vancouver routed visiting Washington 6-2 on Oct. 26. Baertschi had two goals and an assist, and Brock Boeser had three assists. Nilsson made 25 saves while Holtby allowed five goals in 35 minutes.

Holtby is 3-2 with a 2.64 goals against average, one shutout and a .907 save percentage versus the Canucks.

Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom is 0-5 with a 3.51 GAA and an .889 save percentage against the Capitals.