GAME: Washington Capitals (11-23-4-1) at Ottawa Senators (19-10-5-3).TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.
The Ottawa Senators hardly resemble the team that started the season.
Ottawa tries to extend its longest unbeaten streak of the season to nine games when it faces the last-place Washington Capitals.
The Senators started this season strong with a 5-1-0-1 record, but then hit a 4-7-2-2 skid that briefly left them last in the Northeast Division. However, Ottawa enters this weekend as one of the league's hottest teams, unbeaten in its last eight games (6-0-2) and with just two losses in its last 15 (10-2-3).
Captain Daniel Alfredsson even went so far as to guarantee that the Senators would win the Stanley Cup.
"Go ahead and write it, I guarantee we'll win the Cup," he said. "I strongly believe this team will do it. No question about it. Hopefully this year. We've got the core, for sure, especially when we get everybody healthy."
Ottawa, which had the league's best record last season and reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, has moved within six points of Toronto for the top spot in the Northeast Division.
The Senators proved they are the hottest team in the East, as they ended the New York Islanders' six-game win streak, 1-0 Thursday.
Patrick Lalime made 32 saves for Ottawa's second consecutive shutout following Martin Prusek's effort in a 3-0 win in Boston on Tuesday. Lalime and Prusek have combined to allow just 11 goals during the eight-game streak.
"It just shows that we're committed to play well in our own end," Lalime said. "We had a big game. We stayed patient the whole way and we got the big goal with five minutes left."
With Lalime's wife due to give birth to their second child Friday, Prusek is scheduled to start Saturday.
One night after an embarrassing 7-1 loss at Buffalo, the Capitals rallied for a 2-2 tie against visiting New Jersey on Thursday.
Joel Kwiatkowski scored the tying goal on the power play early in the third period, as Washington moved to 1-4-3 in the last eight games.
"After losing the way we did, a team can easily go south, especially with what our record is," Capitals forward Mike Grier said. "To come back and a play gutty game like that against the Stanley Cup champions, it's big for us."
The Caps played Thursday without right wing Peter Bondra due to a groin injury, and learned Friday that center Dainius Zubrus would be sidelined two to four weeks with a broken bone in his right foot.