Considering their recent struggles against the Ottawa Senators, the Washington Capitals could have a hard time trying to end their longest slide in more than three years.
Mired in a five-game losing stretch, the Capitals try to avoid a seventh consecutive defeat to the visiting Senators on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET).
'The expectation is that we will be sharp all the time.' - Senators head coach Paul MacLean
That might be easier said than done versus Ottawa (21-19-9), which has outscored the Capitals 22-11 and gone 7 of 25 (28.0 per cent) on the power play during a six-game series winning streak. The Senators have scored nine goals in two games against the Capitals this season, and matched a season high in a 6-4 win at Washington on Nov. 27.
One point behind the Capitals in the East, Ottawa is 3-0-1 on the road following an 0-3-1 stretch away from home. The Senators, however, are coming off Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Rangers, which snapped an eight-game point streak (6-0-2).
"The expectation is that we will be sharp all the time," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. "I'm not sure we were that bad [Saturday]. The mistakes we did make they took advantage of."
Two Senators' turnovers resulted in goals for the Rangers. The most glaring came with 11.5 seconds remaining in the second period when star defenceman Erik Karlsson's pass was intercepted by Derek Stepan, who then scored on Craig Anderson's short-side to give the Rangers a two-goal lead.
"We're fighting for our lives here, we only have to find ways to keep getting points like we were before," said Anderson, who has a 3.42 goals-against average while losing three of four.
"[Saturday] we didn't get the job done. I know guys would like to fix their mistakes, but we can't do anything about that now. Look forward to the next game and make sure we don't make the same mistakes again."
Anderson has been in net for the last six games versus Washington, posting a 1.83 GAA.
Karlsson, who has a goal and seven assists in his last six games, has nine assists along with two scores during a seven-game point streak against the Capitals.
Ovechkin has three goals in the last four games but has been held to two scores in his last 10 contests versus Ottawa.
Washington (22-19-8) has totalled seven goals during an 0-3-2 skid that is the club's longest since going 0-6-2 from Dec. 2-18, 2010.
"We're in a slump right now, that's for sure," said forward Nicklas Backstrom, who snapped a four-game point drought by assisting on Alex Ovechkin's goal in Sunday's 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers.
''It's tough, but we've got to find a way to get through it. We've got to start playing way better than we're doing right now."
Losers in 11 of 14, the Capitals were outscored 13-5 during a recent trip against Metropolitan Division rivals Pittsburgh, Columbus and the Rangers. Ovechkin's league-leading 35th goal Sunday snapped a five-game power-play drought for the Capitals.
"All the experienced guys, we've got to really stick together here and battle through," Backstrom said. "It's tough, but I think we're going to turn this around, and we're going to do it next game. We're going to be much stronger after that."