After breaking out of their scoring slump in their last game, the Montreal Canadiens look for another strong effort on Thursday when they face the defensively-challenged Washington Capitals.
The Canadiens (23-11-5) had scored just one goal in each of two straight losses before defeating the Lightning 5-2 at the Bell Centre on Tuesday for a split of their home-and-home series. Montreal fell 3-1 on the road to Tampa Bay on Saturday.
The Canadiens have won seven of their last 10 games, scoring four or more goals in each of those wins but two goals or fewer in the losses.
"There was no panic in this room," said Montreal goaltender Cristobal Huet, who made 21 saves Tuesday. "We knew we had to get back to a good team work ethic."
Third-year center Tomas Plekanec had his first two-goal game of the season on Tuesday after scoring just three goals in his first 38 games this season.
"Tonight was a good night for me and I hope it's going to keep going for as long as possible," said Plekanec, who has gone 108 career games without scoring in consecutive contests.
Plekanec will have a chance to end that skid against the Capitals (16-17-7), who have allowed 140 goals this season - the third-most in the league - and have been outscored 21-10 during their five-game losing streak.
Huet is 4-1-0 with a 1.99 goals-against average in his career against Washington, and also has been stellar in his career at the Verizon Center going 3-1-0 with a 2.02 GAA in four career starts there. He's struggled recently on the road, though, going 3-4-0 with a 2.74 GAA in his last seven games.
Saku Koivu, who leads the Canadiens with 24 assists and 39 points, had two assists in Tuesday's win. He's recorded two goals and eight assists in his last eight games against the Capitals.
The Capitals lost to Phoenix 3-2 on Monday to drop their fifth straight game in regulation. They lost six straight games Nov. 15-25, but went 0-4-2 in those contests. They have not lost six straight games in regulation since Oct. 14-29, 2003.
"It's not a lot of fun, and I don't wish this on anybody," center Brian Sutherby said. "We got to battle through it. We got to push on and get a win."
Alexander Ovechkin had an assist against the Coyotes, and has one goal and three assists during the losing skid. Ovechkin has not scored a goal in his last four games. It's his longest drought since going six straight from March 30-April 8, a streak that began against Montreal.
The reigining Calder Trophy winner, has two goals and three assists in five career games against the Canadiens.
Olaf Kolzig stopped 24 shots on New Year's Day, and has a 3.32 GAA during the Capitals' losing streak. The 15-year veteran has given up 10 goals while losing his last three starts against Montreal.
Montreal defeated Washington 4-1 on Dec. 27 as Huet finished with 30 saves and Mathieu Dandenault and Aaron Downey scored their first goals of the season in the opening period for the Canadiens.