David Krejci has been an unlikely offensive force in helping the Boston Bruins to a season-high six-game winning streak.
On Monday, the rookie will try to continue his surprising scoring and lead the Bruins to their longest win streak in almost 15 years when they visit the Washington Capitals.
Krejci, 21, has scored only three NHL goals in 44 career games, but all of them have come in the last three. The center's scoring streak has helped the Bruins (35-23-6) win six games in a row and seven of their last eight (7-0-1), including Saturday's 3-2 shootout win over Atlanta. Boston hasn't won seven straight since closing out the 1992-93 season with an eight-game run.
"That first goal gave him (Krejci) a lot of confidence," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Now he's finding the back of the net. It's tough when you get to February and you haven't scored a goal."
Krejci, Boston's second-round pick in the 2004 NHL entry draft, has 15 points for the Bruins after leading their AHL affiliate in Providence with 31 goals and 74 points last season.
Marc Savard, who has an NHL-leading 59 assists and a team-high 73 points, has also been a force during the last seven games, tallying one goal and 10 assists. The All-Star center has a goal and nine assists in helping the Bruins win their last five games against Washington (30-28-8). His lone goal came in the most recent meeting, a 2-0 win on Jan. 3.
Tim Thomas made 31 saves in that victory for the first of his two shutouts this season. Thomas, who stopped 26 shots Saturday for his fourth consecutive win, is 8-0-1 with a 1.82 goals-against average in nine career games against the Capitals.
Boston has won its last five trips to the nation's capital since losing there on Dec. 11, 2003. Overall, the team has won eight of the last nine matchups against the Caps, the lone defeat coming in overtime on April 10, 2006.
The Bruins will try to keep all of their winning streaks intact as they look to close the four-point gap on fifth-place New Jersey in the Eastern Conference.
"I think everybody's in a playoff mode now," Julien said. "Every team that's in the race is thinking that way. And there doesn't seem to be many teams packing it in."
Washington, which is six points behind eighth-place Philadelphia for the final playoff spot in the East, is looking to rebound from a 3-2 home loss to last-place Toronto on Saturday. Alexander Ovechkin gave the Capitals a one-goal lead in the first period, but the team struggled the rest of the way.
"This is a lesson for us," said Ovechkin, who snapped a season-high, seven-game goal drought. "We know how we have to play, and we started a little bit to change our game in the second period. We know what we have to do, and we just don't do it."
Ovechkin, the league's leading goal scorer with 49, was held pointless in the last meeting with Boston after he had three goals and four assists in the previous eight matchups. Ovechkin is on the verge of his second career 50-goal campaign, a mark he reached in his rookie season of 2005-06.
The teams play again Saturday at Boston.