WASHINGTON -- The Boston Bruins' record since returning from the 2014 Sochi Olympics is nearly spotless.
In winning 13 of 16, the Bruins have propelled themselves to the top of the Eastern Conference standings with the Stanley Cup Playoffs fast approaching.
Boston has suffered one regulation loss in the past month: a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals, who have little choice but to replicate their March 1 performance Saturday as they attempt to qualify for the postseason.
"They're going on all cylinders, they're a good hockey team. Very good hockey team," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "We know they're a good hockey team and if you're not ready to play them they can embarrass you. I'm hoping we have the effort we had in there [March 1] and we can play solid and not give them much."
In that game earlier this month, the Capitals used their top-ranked power play to jump out to a 3-0 lead before surviving the Bruins' late-game pushback.
Five days later, Washington visited Boston yet again. In the rematch, the Capitals struggled through one of their most listless performances of the season. Washington spent the game chasing the puck in a penalty-free game and registered a season-low 16 shots in the 3-0 loss.
"They play different hockey than most of the teams," right wing Alex Ovechkin said. "They play more defensive style of hockey, good goalie, good defensive guys and sometimes it's just hard to play against that kind of team."
With at least one point against the Bruins, the Capitals would temporarily hold a playoff spot for the first time since Jan. 18. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings, two of three teams tied with the Capitals at 80 points, play Saturday evening.
Boston will clinch the Atlantic Division with at least one point or a Buffalo Sabres victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning in any fashion.
If the Capitals do qualify for the playoffs, they could face the Bruins in the first round, which adds a bit more intrigue to the Saturday matinee.
"It's going to be like a playoff match because if we are going to be in [the playoffs] we are going to play against Boston," Ovechkin said. "It's a huge challenge for the team and it's always nice to play against a good team who knows how to win and you get that momentum on your side if you win."
Here are the projected lineups for the Bruins and Capitals:
Milan Lucic – David Krejci – Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Reilly Smith
Chris Kelly – Carl Soderberg – Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara – Johnny Boychuk
Matt Bartkowski – Kevan Miller
Torey Krug – Dougie Hamilton
Scratched: Jordan Caron, Andrej Meszaros, Corey Potter
Injured: Adam McQuaid (quad), Dennis Seidenberg (knee)
Evgeny Kuznetsov – Nicklas Backstrom – Troy Brouwer
Marcus Johansson – Jay Beagle – Alex Ovechkin
Jason Chimera – Eric Fehr – Joel Ward
Dustin Penner – Chris Brown – Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner – John Carlson
John Erskine – Mike Green
Dmitry Orlov – Patrick Wey
Scratched: Connor Carrick
Injured: Brooks Laich (groin), Mikhail Grabovski (ankle), Aaron Volpatti (shoulder), Jack Hillen (upper body)