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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, December 18th (All times eastern)

Washington Capitals (18-11-4) at Boston Bruins (16-10-4), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Though the Bruins are on their longest losing streak of the season, they haven't come close to matching the Capitals' recent stretch of dismal play.

Boston hopes to snap a three-game skid while Washington goes for its first victory in eight games with this evening's test at TD Garden, the final meeting between the two clubs this regular season.

After a stretch of four victories in five games, the Bruins have dropped three in a row to fall four points back of the Canadiens for first place in the Northeast Division. Montreal handed Boston its most recent setback, a 4-3 decision on Thursday at the Bell Centre.

Marc Savard had a goal and an assist and Milan Lucic made things interesting when he was credited with a power-play goal with 4:50 to play that pulled the Bruins to within one.

"Our team battled hard in the second and third, but a couple of bad bounces and that was the game," said Savard.

Tim Thomas made 37 saves to suffer his first regulation loss since Nov. 26 (3-1-2).

The Bruins begin a three-game homestand tonight and haven't lost four straight since an epic 10-game slide (0-6-4) from Jan. 16-Feb. 6. They are 7-5-3 at home this season.

Washington hasn't won since Dec. 1, going 0-5-2 since. It has been outscored 25-9 in that span and the powerful Capitals offense has been held to one goal or less in seven of its last 14 games. The club is 4-8-2 in that span.

The Caps did come away with a point last time out, dropping a 2-1 home test to the Ducks in overtime on Wednesday. Semyon Varlamov made 22 saves, but yielded the game-winner to Ryan Getzlaf with 57 seconds left in OT.

Brooks Laich notched the lone goal for the Capitals.

"I see us winning a lot of hockey games in the future. But right now it's frustrating because no one is used to this," Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau said of the losing streak, which is the club's longest since a nine- game slide (0-6-3) from Feb. 25-March 15, 2007.

Both Alexander Semin and Marcus Johansson are questionable for tonight with flu-like symptoms, while Boyd Gordon remains out with a lower-body injury.

Defenseman John Erskine will play his first game since inking a two-year contract extension with Washington on Friday. The 30-year-old has a career- high three goals and four assists in 31 games this season.

The Bruins and Capitals have already met three times this season, with the Bruins taking the first two battles before Washington answered with a 5-3 home victory on Nov. 5 to snap a three-game series losing streak.

Boston's 4-1 triumph at home on Oct. 21 snapped a three-game series home losing streak and was Washington's sixth loss in its last nine at TD Garden.

Though he exited the most recent meeting early, Thomas is still a solid 12-4-2 with a 2.52 goals-against average lifetime versus the Capitals.

12/18 10:52:07 ET


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