Over the past three weeks, the Boston Bruins have traveled from Northern Ireland to the Czech Republic to New Jersey and the nation's capital. After those successful trips, they're glad to finally play in more familiar surroundings for the next three games.
When that stay at TD Garden begins Thursday night, the Bruins will try to earn a fourth straight win overall and a home-and-home sweep of the Washington Capitals.
The Bruins (3-1-0) have been away from home since late September, when they headed to Belfast, Northern Ireland, for an exhibition game. They then split their first two regular-season contests in Prague against Phoenix.
Upon returning to American soil, Boston won a pair of road games against the Devils and Washington (4-2-0). Making his third straight start Tuesday night, Tim Thomas made a season-high 35 saves in a 3-1 win over the Capitals.
"It's going to be good to be home," coach Claude Julien said. "We've had our fair share of road games."
Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic and David Krejci each have at least one point in each game this season for Boston. Horton and Krejci are tied for the early club lead with six points apiece.
The Boston skaters will likely face Semyon Varlamov, who replaced an ill Michal Neuvirth in the first period Tuesday. Varlamov, who opened the season on injured reserve with an ailing groin, stopped 13 of 14 shots in his 2010-11 debut.
To help Varlamov, the Capitals (4-2-0) will attempt to add to their impressive penalty-killing streak. They haven't allowed a goal in 25 short-handed opportunities this season, and will now try to join the 2008-09 Minnesota Wild as the only teams not to give up a power-play goal in their first seven games since the league expanded in 1967.
The penalty kill has helped Washington overcome a relatively slow start from its offense. The Capitals scored an NHL-best 313 times last season -- an average of nearly four per contest -- but have tallied more than three in a game just once in their first six.
"(The penalty killing has) come at a good time," defenseman and Massachusetts native Tom Poti told the team's official website. "We're struggling to score a little bit. The biggest thing I've noticed is we're taking away the other team's points on the penalty kill."
The Capitals might not have their top scoring defensemen as Mike Green is expected to miss his third straight game with a shoulder stinger.
Alex Ovechkin, who had four goals and four assists before his season-opening point streak was snapped Tuesday, has not scored a goal in his last three games against the Bruins after finding the net eight times in the previous nine meetings.
Despite Tuesday's loss, the Capitals are 7-1-2 in their last 10 meetings with the Bruins overall and have won their last three visits to Boston.
Bruins left wing Milan Lucic has scored a goal in 3 straight games. It's the 2nd time in his career that he's done so. The last occurrence came on Dec. 8-12, 2008. Lucic has never scored a goal in 4 straight games.