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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Monday, April 3rd (All times eastern)

Washington Capitals (25-38-10) at Carolina Hurricanes (48-20-6), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Carolina Hurricanes hope to make up some ground in the Eastern Conference race tonight when they welcome the Washington Capitals to the RBC Center for the first of three meetings in five nights.

The Canes, who have already wrapped up the Southeast Division title, are three points behind Ottawa in the race for the top spot in the East standings.

Carolina has lost five of its last eight games, including Saturday's 5-2 tilt in Atlanta. Ilya Kovalchuk scored a pair of second-period goals to lift the Thrashers.

Matt Cullen had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes, who claimed the Southeast crown a night earlier by defeating visiting Florida, 3-2. Rookie goaltender Cam Ward allowed five goals on 18 shots before being pulled in the second period. Regular starter Martin Gerber stopped eight of eight shots the rest of the way.

The Hurricanes will visit the Capitals on Wednesday before facing them again two days later in DC.

Washington, meanwhile, has won three of its last four games despite being way out of the postseason picture. On Saturday, Brent Johnson turned aside all 46 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season as the Capitals upset Ottawa, 1-0, at Scotiabank Place.

Dainius Zubrus scored the lone goal of the game for the Capitals. Alexander Ovechkin tallied an assist on the Zubrus goal, pushing his point streak to eight games.

Ovechkin checks in with 48 goals and 48 assists. Ovechkin is two tallies shy of reaching the 50-goal plateau. Only three rookies in NHL history have tallied 50 goals or more -- Teemu Selanne (76), Mike Bossy (53) and Joe Nieuwendyk (51). Selanne was the lone skater to post both 50 goals and 100 points in his first campaign.

The Capitals have won three of the first five meetings with the Canes this season, taking the last three.

Washington has won in its last two trips to Raleigh.

04/03 10:29:10 ET

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