Although their longest win streak of the season is over, the Washington Capitals have proven they can no longer to be taken lightly.
Washington looks to win consecutive road games over the Philadelphia Flyers for the first time in almost 13 years when the teams meet at the Wachovia Center on Saturday.
The Capitals (12-10-6) had their season-best four-game win streak snapped Friday with a 6-1 home loss to league-leading Anaheim. Washington, which failed to make the playoffs each of the last two seasons, was bidding to win five straight for the first time since March 3-11, 2001.
"We didn't play the way we wanted to," Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig said. "We wanted to come out hard in the first period and establish ourselves. We basically gave them the first three goals."
A win over the team with the NHL's best record would've provided further proof that the Capitals are a legitimate postseason contender.
The first two wins during their streak were against Tampa Bay and Dallas, while the third came against Buffalo, which has an Eastern Conference-leading 46 points. Washington won its fourth straight Wednesday against Ottawa, handing the surging Senators just their second loss in 10 games.
Friday's loss also ended the Capitals' streak of four straight games with at least four goals. They outscored opponents 9-1 during the first period in the previous four games, but were outshot 8-0 over the first six minutes Friday and trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes.
Washington will try to get back on track in Philadelphia, where it hadn't won in almost nine years before Alexander Ovechkin scored twice in a 5-3 victory on Nov. 4.
The Caps had 15 losses and a tie in 16 road games against the Flyers since a 3-2 win on Jan. 31, 1998. Washington hasn't won two straight in Philadelphia since Jan. 29 and Feb. 2, 1994.
The last-place Flyers (8-16-4) couldn't get any of their 28 shots past Martin Brodeur on Friday in a 2-0 loss at New Jersey.
Philadelphia, playing its first game in six days, also dropped to 0-3-3 this season without star center Peter Forsberg in the lineup.
"We're going to have to score by committee," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "Our team game is going to have to be outstanding from top to bottom. We need to compete hard on every shift."
Generating offense now becomes even more of a problem for the Flyers, who have scored an Eastern Conference-low 68 goals in 28 games.
Forsberg missed his second straight game and is expected to miss at least two more. He is having difficulty finding a skate to support his surgically-repaired right ankle.
"There's way too much movement in the foot inside the skate, so it's not possible to play," Forsberg said. "I wouldn't do the team any good on the ice. I can't turn, even for my own safety. I don't think I'll be back until it gets better or at least until I can keep my balance on the ice, and right now it's not like that at all."
The Flyers were 10-10-2 without Forsberg last season and 35-16-9 when he played.