(Sports Network) - The Capitals have been able to pick up some points during most losing streaks this season, but that hasn't been the case as of late. The Ducks have been racking up points at a much better pace. Anaheim takes aim at a fifth straight victory while also trying to deal Washington a fourth regulation setback in a row with tonight's meeting at the Honda Center.
The Ducks return home after a perfect four-game road trip, a swing capped with Sunday's 4-0 victory over the Oilers. Goaltender Jonas Hiller faced just 12 shots and stopped each one to record his career-high fifth shutout of the season and 11th of his career. "The less shots they have on our net the less chances they have to score," Hiller said. "It's always a give and take, but I'm not complaining about not having too many shots."
Bobby Ryan scored twice, Teemu Selanne netted the 623rd goal of his career to move two behind Joe Sakic for 14th on the league's all-time list and Brandon McMillan tallied in the Ducks' 14th victory in their last 18 games. Anaheim's run has it tied for second the Pacific Division with Dallas and San Jose, just a point back of first-place Phoenix.
The Ducks return home for a game before playing their next two on the road and have won eight of their last 10 at the Honda Center. Defenseman Francois Beauchemin will make his season home debut with the Ducks after being re- acquired from the Maple Leafs last week. "It's always good to be back in the building and practicing," Beauchemin, who won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007, told his team's website. "The identity is the same. We are a physical, fast team and solid defensively."
While the identity may be the same, the Ducks will have a slightly altered look after placing Hiller on injured reserve after having a recurrence of lightheadedness and fatigue following practice on Tuesday. The 29-year-old spent two games on IR last week with the symptoms. Curtis McElhinney took over Hiller's starting role during that span and is likely to get the start tonight, with recalled netminder Timo Pielmeier serving as the backup.
The Capitals opened up a season-long five-game road trip on Monday in Phoenix and lost a 3-2 decision. Matt Bradley and Marcus Johansson both scored, while Michal Neuvirth gave up three goals on 18 shots. "This road trip is very important to us ... We just need points, and everyone knows it," Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin said.
Washington has now lost three straight in regulation for the first time since Dec. 9-12 while scoring just three goals in that span. The club has also dipped six points back of Tampa Bay for the top spot in the Southeast Division and into sixth overall in the Eastern Conference. Washington, which will play at San Jose on Thursday before heading back east, will hope to have defenseman Mike Green back in the lineup after he missed Monday's game with an inner ear ailment. He is day-to-day and did not participate in an optional practice on Tuesday. Washington did recall defenseman Patrick McNeill from Hershey of the American Hockey League.
The Capitals had won two straight and three of their previous four versus the Ducks before a 2-1 overtime home loss on Dec. 15. Ryan Getzlaf scored with 57 seconds left in the extra frame, while Hiller made 31 saves. Semyon Varlamov ended with 22 saves for Washington, which has won two straight in Anaheim but also has just three victories in its last 10 trips to Orange County.