Facing the league's best home team probably isn't the best way to get a road trip back on course.
But that's exactly what the Washington Capitals face Saturday night when they take on the well-rested, Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks.
While San Jose, 10-0-1 at HP Pavilion, hasn't played since Monday, the Capitals (11-5-3) take the ice for the third time in four nights following their 5-2 loss at Los Angeles on Thursday.
"I just think they were more emotionally into the game than we were at the beginning, and that's the part that's unacceptable," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We weren't up to our standards by any stretch of the imagination. And once you let a team get on a roll like that, it's tough to stop them."
Washington has lost two of three games on this five-game road trip, which ends Monday in Minnesota, after winning a season-high five straight.
Alex Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 5.2 shots per game, extended his points streak to six games with an assist Thursday, but failed to score on five shots. He had all three of the Capitals' shots in the first period while the Kings had 12.
Washington, which had averaged 31.6 shots through its first 18 games, took a season-low 21 shots to Los Angeles' 33.
"The Kings moved faster than us, with shooting and everything," said Ovechkin, who is scoreless in two career games - both losses - against the Sharks. "We just didn't get the puck to the net."
It didn't help having team scoring leader Alexander Semin sidelined for the third straight game with an undisclosed upper-body injury. He's doubtful for Saturday.
Defenseman Mike Green, who has seven goals and nine assists, missed his first game in two seasons on Thursday with a bruised shoulder. He could play Saturday, as could Sergei Fedorov, who missed the previous seven games with a sprained ankle.
Nicklas Backstrom scored for the third straight game Thursday, and has 14 points in his last seven.
Brent Johnson, who was 4-0 with a 1.80 goals-against average in his previous four starts, allowed three goals and picked up his first loss since Nov. 4. However, he's undefeated in five starts in San Jose - all with St. Louis - with a 1.20 GAA and one shutout.
The Capitals, however, have lost five straight in San Jose (16-3-1) and are facing a Sharks team that owns the NHL's best record.
Since a 4-3 overtime loss to Nashville on Nov. 11 - its only home loss this season - San Jose has won three in a row, outscoring its opponents 16-7.
In Monday's 4-1 victory over Nashville, the Sharks, who take a league-high 37.9 shots per game, converted only 1-of-7 on the power play. But their defense, which kills 84.6 percent of opponents' power plays, held the Predators scoreless on their six opportunities with the extra skater.
"We have to keep going," said Devin Setoguchi, who extended his points streak to four games with a goal and an assist. "We could have executed better and stayed out of the penalty box more, but we still played a great road game. We got the first couple of goals and never looked back from there."
Brian Boucher is a major reason for that. Coming off Monday's 32-save outing, Boucher is among the league leaders with a 1.87 GAA. He has two shutouts in his last five starts against the Caps.