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There haven't been many teams getting the best of the Washington Capitals lately, but even fewer have succeeded against them at home. The New York Rangers are becoming quite familiar with both scenarios.
The Capitals, owners of the best home record in the Eastern Conference, seek their longest winning streak of the season and their fifth consecutive victory over the Rangers on Saturday night as the division leaders meet at the Verizon Center.
After defeating the Rangers 3-1 at home on Nov. 8, Washington (25-11-3) rallied from four goals down for a 5-4 overtime win in New York on Dec. 23. The Capitals have won the last four matchups, and three straight at home to improve to 11-1-2 there against the Rangers (23-13-3) since March 9, 2001.
The latest victory in the series spurred the Capitals to their current five-game winning streak - their third such run of the season.
On Thursday, they blew a three-goal first-period lead but recovered for a 7-4 victory over Tampa Bay. The Capitals set a season high in goals in coach Bruce Boudreau's 100th game behind the bench.
Alex Ovechkin contributed a goal and two assists to help Southeast Division-leading Washington pick up its 10th win in 11 games. He has 12 goals and five assists in that span, and leads the team with 26 goals and 52 points.
The league's reigning MVP has also been successful at home. Ovechkin has 15 goals and nine assists during a 12-game point streak at the Verizon Center, where the Capitals are a conference-best 16-1-1 and have outscored opponents 31-13 while winning seven straight.
It's the team's longest home streak since reeling off 10 victories in a row from Jan. 4-Feb. 23, 2000.
"We come out here and the record is what it is, I think you think you're going to win," Boudreau said. "You get great energy in this building generated by the fans. And it has to get you going and thinking that you're going to have a good game."
Ovechkin has six goals and five assists in seven home meetings against the Atlantic Division-leading Rangers, who are 10-6-1 as visitors this season.
New York ended 2008 by snapping its season-high 0-2-1 slide on Monday, notching four goals in the final period for a 5-4 home victory over the New York Islanders.
Scott Gomez had a goal and an assist, while captain Chris Drury and Brandon Dubinsky each added two assists for the Rangers, who are averaging 3.22 goals in nine games since being shut out by Calgary on Dec. 7.
However, they haven't been as sharp defensively in that span, surrendering 31 goals - 16 in the last four games.
"I got the effort from everybody, we just have to translate that into being a smart team," Rangers coach Tom Renney said after Monday's win. "There are still two ends of the rink. They scored four goals. I'm not happy about that."
Henrik Lundqvist, who's started 33 of New York's 39 games, remains among the league leaders with 19 wins, but is just 4-6-1 with a 3.81 goals-against average in his last 11 starts. He's allowed 12 goals on 98 shots in losing three straight to the Capitals after winning his previous four.
Washington's Brent Johnson, who made 23 saves Thursday, is 2-0-0 with a 1.76 GAA in four career games versus the Rangers. But Boudreau may go with Jose Theodore, who has won four straight overall and boasts a 1.98 GAA in winning seven of his eight home starts.
Theodore is 9-2-0 with a tie and a 2.48 GAA in 12 career games against the Rangers.