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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, December 7th (All times eastern)

Washington Capitals (15-9-3) at Carolina Hurricanes (12-12-3), 5 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Washington Capitals will try to extend their lead in the Southeast Division against the second-place Carolina Hurricanes, as the two clubs square off today at the RBC Center.

The Capitals lead the division with 33 points, six more than the Hurricanes. The two teams split their eight-game series a year ago, but Washington won the last two meetings and has also claimed victory in the first two matchups this season to run its winning streak over Carolina to four games.

It is the Capitals' longest win streak over the 'Canes since taking five in a row from March 2, 2003-January 29, 2004.

Washington's two Alexes have torched Carolina this year. Alexander Semin has four goals and three assists in the two meetings this year, while Alexander Ovechkin has posted a goal and five assist.

The good news for the Hurricanes is that Semin won't play in this contest, as he remains on injured reserve due to an upper back/shoulder ailment. The bad news is that Ovechkin, who has points in 12 of his last 14 games, will be on the ice.

Ovechkin was held off the scoresheet in last night's 2-1 win over Toronto, with the Capitals instead getting their goals from a pair of defenseman. Playing in his sixth NHL game, 2007 fifth-overall pick Karl Alzner got the first goal of his career, while Milan Jurcina's third-period tally was the game-winner.

Brent Johnson stopped 19-of-20 shots in the victory, which snapped a four-game road losing streak for the Capitals. Washington, 5-8-2 as the visiting team this year, has won two straight in Carolina after dropping five in a row there.

Washington has won four of its last six games overall.

The Hurricanes were also in action on Saturday night and dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to the Philadelphia Flyers. Sergei Samsonov's early third- period goal tied the game, but Michael Leighton was beaten on a Jeff Carter shot with 1:26 left in overtime.

Leighton was starting in place of Cam Ward, who missed his second straight game due to a groin injury that has him day-to-day.

Carolina has now dropped three straight and six of its last seven games. The club is also winless in two games since Paul Maurice took over as head coach, replacing the fired Peter Laviolette on Wednesday.

The Hurricanes have lost five in a row at home, including the first three contests of a four-game homestand that wraps tonight. Carolina, 6-8-1 as the host this year, visits Philadelphia on Thursday.

12/07 10:30:58 ET


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