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Game Preview: Boston @ Washington

Wednesday, 12.10.2008 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

The Boston Bruins have won five in a row, 14 of 16 and have dropped just one game in regulation since Oct. 30.

That's a hard matchup for any team, even a Washington Capitals club that's 10-1-1 at home.

On Wednesday night at the Verizon Center, Boston goes for its third straight road win as the Caps try to bounce back from a tough division loss.

Boston (19-4-4) is coming off a 5-3 victory over Tampa Bay on Monday night that improved its record at TD Banknorth Garden to 10-1-1. Still, the Bruins are looking for a more inspired effort on Wednesday than the one they had in the final 40 minutes against the Lightning.

"Once we got a comfortable lead, we decided to get cute," said Boston coach Claude Julien, whose team's only regulation defeat since Oct. 30 was 3-2 at Buffalo on Nov. 26.

The Bruins took a 3-0 lead against Tampa Bay as Milan Lucic, Phil Kessel and Michael Ryder had goals in a 4:02 span of the first period.

Kessel, who leads the team with 17 goals, has scored in six straight games, including two goals against Tampa Bay last Thursday. He also has at least one point in 12 games in a row - the longest current streak in the NHL.

Kessel, who added an assist on Lucic's goal, has 10 goals and six assists since going without a point in a 2-1 shootout win at Chicago on Nov. 12.

Kessel, though, has no points in his last seven games against Washington (15-10-3).

David Krejci's assist on Zdeno Chara's second-period power-play goal Monday pushed his point streak to nine games. Krejci has five goals and 10 assists during that span.

Tim Thomas, second in the NHL with a 1.90 goals-against average, continued his brilliant season with 26 saves. He is 8-1-1 with a 1.86 GAA since a 3-2 loss to Calgary on Oct. 30. Prior to allowing seven goals in a 10-2 loss to the Capitals on March 3, Thomas was 4-0-0 with a 1.92 GAA in four career starts in Washington.

The Capitals enter following a 3-1 loss to Carolina on Sunday that snapped a two-game winning streak and cut their lead over the Hurricanes to four points in the Southeast Division.

Nicklas Backstrom scored Washington's goal on the power play in the third period. Alex Ovechkin notched an assist on the play - his team-leading 21st of the season - but missed a penalty shot with 1.2 seconds left in the second that would have made it 1-all.

During his four-year career, Ovechkin has not converted a penalty shot in five opportunities.

"I'll be the last one to give him a tip on how to score," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "All I know is that if it doesn't work, don't do it again."

In two home games against Boston last season, Ovechkin had three goals and two assists - all coming in the 10-2 win.

Jose Theodore, who made 22 saves Sunday, hasn't faced Boston in more than three years. He went 2-0-0 with a 2.01 GAA against the Bruins in October 2005 while with Montreal.

The Capitals won both home games versus Boston last season after losing the previous five in Washington.

2008-2009 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Feb 28 '09WSH 4 at BOS 3 - OTA. Semin
Jan 27 '09WSH 2 at BOS 3 - OTD. Krejci
Jan 17 '09BOS 1 at WSH 2A. Semin
Dec 10 '08BOS 1 at WSH 3A. Giroux
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
M. Savard2882432+153830
P. Kessel2817926+12642
D. Krejci2881624+141013
M. Lucic2881018+125321
M. Ryder2871017+81013
D. Wideman2761016+11631
P. Bergeron2841216+11001
B. Wheeler289615+151212
Z. Chara285914+42431
C. Kobasew165914+81512
M. Sturm186612+8840
M. Hunwick163710+13600
S. Yelle28358+1801
P. Axelsson25178-4400
A. Ference16077+91900
S. Hnidy24145+113000
S. Thornton28134+15000
A. Ward24033+92000
M. Stuart28112+63600
P. Nokelainen20000-2800
V. Sobotka5000-2000
M. Lashoff4000-3000
J. Boychuk1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
T. Thomas1711-3-3335461.90.940
M. Fernandez118-2-1233072.08.925
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
A. Ovechkin27152237+93441
A. Semin17131528+181213
N. Backstrom2991827+21250
T. Fleischmann2810616-8642
M. Green187916+101261
V. Kozlov2451116-5810
B. Laich2951015-21031
M. Nylander2821315+21610
S. Fedorov13459+61610
T. Poti18358+4801
D. Steckel26437+12200
E. Fehr16347+2811
J. Schultz21077+0600
M. Jurcina29246-12601
B. Gordon26156-2601
M. Bradley29314+11201
T. Sloan19134+0600
S. Lepisto7044-3600
D. Brashear27123-24501
K. Alzner8123+3000
C. Clark20033-51400
S. Morrisonn23022+02200
J. Erskine19022+22900
A. Giroux2101+1001
B. Helmer6011-2200
C. Bourque4000-1000
K. Aucoin3000+2000
S. Collins3000+0400
G. Mink2000+0000
O. Osala1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
J. Theodore178-6-1504483.08.888
B. Johnson148-4-2323912.47.918