The Washington Capitals have finished in last place in the Southeast Division the last two seasons, but they're looking like a different team so far this year.
Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals look to build on their first back-to-back wins of the season when they visit the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.
Washington (6-4-4) beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in overtime on Monday, two days after a 5-3 victory at Philadelphia. The Capitals, who haven't reached the postseason since 2003, ended a 16-game winless drought at Philadelphia and an eight-game home winless skid against Ottawa.
Against the Senators, they came back from a 3-0 first-period deficit.
"Now we know we can score, and that's the difference," said captain Chris Clark, who scored the game-winner on Monday. "We can come back and actually win these games, not just fight hard and make it respectable."
Ovechkin scored two goals for the second straight game, including one with 24.4 seconds left in regulation against Ottawa to force overtime. Last season's Calder Trophy winner as the NHL's top rookie has 18 points through 14 games - three points ahead of the pace he set last season en route to 52 goals and 106 assists.
"My goal is not to score 52 goals, 56 goals," said Ovechkin, who has four straight multipoint games. "My goal is to play hard, try to help the team win."
Ovechkin scored two goals in the Capitals' 5-2 win over the Hurricanes on Oct. 7.
"For a determined guy, he seems to be even more determined when it gets down to the nitty gritty," coach Glen Hanlon said. "When this organization does make the playoffs, you're likely going to see someone who plays even greater hockey."
Olaf Kolzig gave up all three goals Saturday on five shots in less than 12 minutes - his shortest outing since March 2003 - before being replaced by Brent Johnson. Johnson stopped 21 shots against the Senators after making 33 saves against the Flyers.
Johnson owns a 2.21 goals-against average in five games this season, while Kolzig has a 3.45 GAA in 10 contests.
"We never give up," Kolzig said. "Last year, going into the season, it was, 'Let's go out and have some fun and then see what happens.' Now we believe we can actually win games."
The Hurricanes (7-6-3) picked up a point for the fourth time in five games Tuesday, but lost 3-2 in a shootout to the New Jersey Devils. Eric Staal and Brind'Amour scored for Carolina.
Right wing Trevor Letowski returned after missing nine games with a concussion and recorded 4:55 of ice time. Letowski, who was acquired as a free agent in the offseason after spending the previous two seasons with Columbus, but has not recorded a point in six games for the Hurricanes.
"It was my first time going through anything like that, so to get back into the flow of things again really helps you feel a part of the team," he told carolinahurricanes.com on Wednesday. "I felt good on the ice last night and feel great this morning and hope that moving forward, it'll continue to get better and better."
Washington's win on Oct. 7 ended a three-game winless streak against the Hurricanes. Alexander Semin had three goals in that game to lead the Capitals.