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Islanders-Capitals Preview @NHL

The suddenly slumping Washington Capitals suffered a rare home loss their last time out. On Thursday, they'll host a New York Islanders team that has reversed its fortune in the nation's capital.

Washington looks to avoid a season high-tying third straight loss when it meets the Islanders for the first time in 2008-09.

The Capitals opened this season 11-4-3, but have since dropped five of seven and all of the losses have been in regulation. They suffered their first regulation home loss Tuesday, falling 5-3 to Florida to end a seven-game winning streak at the Verizon Center.

Washington (13-9-3) now hosts New York (10-12-2), which went 0-12-1 with two ties in the nation's capital from April 12, 1997-Oct. 9, 2003 before winning five of its last seven there - including three straight.

On Tuesday, Florida outscored the Capitals 3-0 in the second period, with two of the goals going in after bouncing off Washington players.

"It was the least energy we've had all year, and I talked about us having a lot of energy tonight," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We didn't play with a lot of life, and everybody's accountable."

Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and an assist for Southeast Division-leading Washington, which fell to 9-1-1 at home.

"We did a terrible job," Backstrom said. "We have to be ready to play from the beginning, and that's what we didn't do."

The Capitals are still struggling with injuries as seven players from their opening night roster are sidelined.

New York has been without No. 1 goaltender Rick DiPietro for most of the season, but Joey MacDonald has played well starting in his place. MacDonald made his 14th straight start Saturday and needed to make only 19 saves as the Islanders avoided a third straight loss with a 4-2 home victory over the Ottawa Senators.

"I thought the energy level from the get-go was great," coach Scott Gordon told the Islanders' official Web site. "Our guys made a statement right in the beginning that they wanted to forecheck. The shots against were a reflection of our team establishing the forecheck."

MacDonald earned his eighth win of November and was named the NHL's third star of the month on Monday.

Freddy Meyer scored twice and added an assist against the Senators, falling one goal shy of becoming the first Islanders defenseman to record a hat trick since Denis Potvin on March 4, 1982.

"I know in the minors, I had two hat tricks," Meyer said. "Tonight was just one of those nights."

The Islanders completed a stretch of six games in nine days, and went 3-3-0. New York has won six of its last nine after winning just four times in its first 15 games.

"It was a good win for us," Meyer said, "especially since we were on short rest."

New York won three of the four meetings between these teams last season, holding Washington star Alex Ovechkin to three points.

Ovechkin, chosen as the league's first star of November, has nine points in 11 career games against the Islanders, his fewest versus any team from the Eastern Conference.

He had an assist on Tuesday, giving him 26 points in the last 14 games.

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