NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, March 11th (All times eastern)
Carolina Hurricanes (31-26-10) at Washington Capitals (38-20-10), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The streaking Washington Capitals will try to record a seventh straight victory tonight when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at Verizon Center.
The Capitals have certainly had success against the Hurricanes this season, winning all four meetings between the clubs. However, three of Washington's wins this year against Carolina have come by one-goal margins.
Washington, which leads Tampa Bay by two points for the Southeast Division lead, also claimed the first five games of its current six-game winning streak by just one goal, but the Caps exploded for a 5-0 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.
Rookie Braden Holtby recorded his first shutout, while Alex Ovechkin and Eric Fehr both scored twice in the Capitals' rout of the Oilers. Alexander Semin also scored for the Capitals.
"It's nice just to be able to not have to worry in the last five minutes that it's a one-goal game," said Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau.
Holtby started in place of Michal Neuvirth, who suffered an eye injury in Monday's victory against Tampa Bay, and made another strong impression.
Against the Lightning, Holtby took over after the first period and made 21 saves before stopping three Tampa Bay skaters in the shootout. Then on Wednesday, the 21-year-old turned aside all 22 shots he faced to earn his first shutout.
Neuvirth was able to serve as the backup to Holtby on Wednesday and he is expected take on that role again tonight.
Caps centerman Nicklas Backstrom is expected back tonight after missing the first game of his career on Wednesday with a finger injury. Backstrom had played in 313 straight games before sitting out against the Oilers.
Washington began a three-game homestand on Wednesday and has won its last three tilts on home ice. The Capitals are 18-10-4 as the host this season.
Carolina enters tonight trailing Buffalo and the New York Rangers by two points for the last two playoff seeds in the East.
The 'Canes can help their postseason chances by avoiding a third straight loss tonight.
The Hurricanes lost their second straight contest on Wednesday, dropping an overtime decision against the visiting Atlanta Thrashers. Tim Stapleton scored 1:38 into OT as the Thrashers earned a 3-2 victory at RBC Center.
Ondrej Pavelec had just made a nice stop on a Jussi Jokinen wrister and Atlanta skated back the other way on a 2-on-1. Ron Hainsey skated into the Carolina end down the left wing and fired a pass to the front where Stapleton redirected it in for the win.
Troy Bodie and Erik Cole scored for the Hurricanes, while Cam Ward made 26 saves in defeat.
"It wasn't an awful game that we played out there tonight," said Cole. "We just have to clean some things up and be sharper in a few areas."
Carolina has lost three straight and seven of its last eight road games and is just 13-16-6 as the guest this season.
The Hurricanes have also dropped two in a row, four of five and six of their last eight games in D.C. Washington has also taken seven out of 10 overall in this series.
03/11 11:01:40 ET