As stingy as the New Jersey Devils were during their hot start, their defense hasn't been able to make up for their recent drought offensively.
The Devils will try to generate some goals and avoid their fourth loss in five games on Thursday night when they visit the Washington Capitals for the beginning of a two-game stay in the nation's capital.
After an 8-1-3 start in which it allowed 22 goals, New Jersey (9-3-4) has been tied by Pittsburgh atop the Atlantic Division after going 1-2-1 in its last four.
The Devils allowed five goals during their season-best five-game winning streak, but they've given up 13 in their last four. At the same time, New Jersey has totaled four goals in its last three losses, including one in each of the last two.
Ilya Kovalchuk's six-game point streak ended in the loss to the Senators, but he may be able to get something going after posting two goals and two assists in his last three against Washington. He scored the overtime winner to give the Devils a 3-2 victory over the visiting Capitals on Jan. 25, their fourth straight in the series.
Patrick Elias added a goal and an assist in that win, giving him two goals and five assists in his last five games in this series.
Elias has a team-high nine power-play points, but New Jersey is just 2 of 13 (15.4 percent) with the man advantage over its last four games after going 7 for 22 (31.8) during its winning streak.
Despite their recent struggles, the Devils still have the respect of the Capitals heading into this meeting.
"They're one of the top teams in the league right now," Washington winger Eric Fehr told the team's official website. "They're one of the teams that really stick to their systems and they work hard every game and you know what to expect from them. We've got to bring our best game for sure."
Martin Brodeur is 4-1-1 with a 1.81 goals-against average in his last six starts, but he's 0-3-0 with a 5.25 GAA in his last three in the nation's capital.
Eastern Conference-worst Washington (5-9-1) scored 15 goals during its season-best three-game winning streak before losing 2-1 at the New York Rangers on Sunday.
"They've been getting better," Devils coach Peter DeBoer told the team's official website. "Their team game is probably 50 percent better than it was (at the start of the season)."
Troy Brouwer hopes to bounce back after having his three-game scoring streak snapped against the Rangers. Brouwer had four goals in his previous three games to take the team lead with seven.
Mike Ribeiro had a third-period goal in the first meeting, and has four goals and six assists in his last seven games.
The Capitals' efficiency on the power play had been one of the keys to their recent success. They converted 7 of 11 (63.6 percent) man-advantage opportunities over a five-game span before going 0 for 4 on Sunday.
Washington will try to do some damage in that area against the Devils, who allowed six power-play goals in their previous three games before holding the Senators scoreless on two chances Monday.
Braden Holtby has been playing well for the Capitals, winning three consecutive starts before taking the loss against the Rangers despite making 38 saves.
Washington, which begins a three-game homestand, also hosts the Devils on Saturday.