Despite a recent surge, the Washington Capitals are still on the outside of the playoff picture as they try to avoid missing the postseason for the first time in seven years.
The Los Angeles Kings are all but assured of a berth, though it hasn’t keep them from putting together their longest road winning streak in nearly three years.
The Capitals look for their fifth win in six games Tuesday night when they host Los Angeles, which seeks a seventh straight road victory.
Washington (34-27-11) is one point behind Detroit and Toronto for a Eastern Conference wild-card spot and four points back of Philadelphia for third place in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals dropped five of six from March 2-March 11, but have since gone 4-0-1.
Tuesday will provide an opportunity to avenge the lone blemish in that stretch, a 2-1 shootout defeat at Los Angeles last Thursday.
The Capitals prevailed in another tiebreaker two days later, winning 3-2 in a shootout in San Jose for their first victory there in more than 20 years. Eric Fehr and Chris Brown scored in regulation, while Nicklas Backstrom scored the shootout winner after having a four-game point streak snapped.
Washington, which had lost its previous five shootouts, got 34 saves from Braden Holtby, who started in place of the injured Jaroslav Halak.
"It was a challenge," Holtby, who made his first appearance since March 6, told the team’s website. "I obviously don’t want to go that long without starting but we’ve been playing very well lately so it hasn’t been an issue. I was given an opportunity to start tonight and I wanted to be there for the guys like they’ve been playing for the last little while."
Coach Adam Oates said Halak, who sat with a lower-body injury, would likely be ready for Tuesday’s game. Halak is 4-2-1 with a 2.13 goals-against average since being acquired from Buffalo after he was traded from St. Louis.
Last week’s shootout win ended a three-game skid for the Kings (41-25-6) and marked the first of three straight victories. Los Angeles, which leads Phoenix by eight points for third in the Pacific, won its sixth straight away from home with Monday’s 3-2 victory in Philadelphia.
Dwight King recorded the winner at the 10:36 mark of the third after the Flyers scored twice in the period’s first 8:18. Former Flyers Jeff Carter and Justin Williams scored in the second to put Los Angeles up 2-0.
The Kings haven’t won seven straight road games since Dec. 31, 2009-Jan. 31, 2010.
"We played a good road game," coach Darryl Sutter said. "We need the points, just like they do. We knew were coming into a tough place and we played good. We’re just trying to make the playoffs."
Jonathan Quick made 30 saves and owns a 0.97 GAA over his last three games. He’s won all three career starts versus Washington with a 1.95 GAA.
Anze Kopitar, who notched with his team-leading 37th assist Monday, has seven goals and three assists while tallying at least one point in each of his seven matchups with the Capitals.
Alex Ovechkin has gone without a point in three of the Capitals’ last five contests, but the penalty-killing units have killed off 19 straight power plays over the last six games.
Washington, which has lost nine of 11 overall to Los Angeles, is just 1-6-0 with one tie in its last eight at home versus the Kings.