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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Saturday, February 23rd (All times eastern)

Washington Capitals (28-26-7) at Carolina Hurricanes (31-28-5), 5 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pair of rivals for the Southeast Division lead will meet today in Raleigh, as the first-place Carolina Hurricanes welcome the Washington Capitals to the RBC Center.

The Hurricanes lead the division with 67 points, but are just four ahead of second-place Washington. Atlanta is only one point in back of the Capitals and Florida is running fourth in the competitive division with 61 points.

Carolina ended a two-game losing streak its last time out, as the Hurricanes notched an important 5-3 win over Atlanta. Scott Walker had a goal and two assists to help Carolina earn the home victory over the Thrashers.

Ryan Bayda had a goal and an assist while Cam Ward made 25 saves for the Hurricanes, who are third in the conference as a result of being first in the Southeast.

Carolina has won four of its last six games and is 2-1-1 since losing captain Rod Brind'Amour for the season to a torn ACL.

Today's contest marks the third segment of a six-game homestand for the Hurricanes, who are 16-11-3 as the host this year. Carolina has won five of six and six of its last eight tests in Raleigh.

The Capitals, meanwhile, have lost three of their last four games and are coming off Wednesday's close setback to the visiting New York Islanders. Mike Comrie scored the lone goal of the shootout, leading the Islanders to the 3-2 decision at the Verizon Center.

On the last chance of the third round, Comrie skated in, made a quick fake with his stick, and slid a backhander through Olaf Kolzig's pads.

Alexander Semin and Brooks Laich tallied for the Capitals, while Kolzig allowed both goals on only 19 shots in regulation.

Capitals superstar winger Alex Ovechkin was held scoreless for the third straight game, marking the Russian's longest point-scoring drought of the season. Ovechkin is still first in the NHL with 48 goals and his 78 points are second only to Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin, who has 82 points on the year.

The Capitals are 13-13-5 as the visiting team this season, but have won three of their last five on the road.

Carolina is 3-2 against the Caps this season and has taken three of four, five of seven and six of the last nine encounters. Washington has also dropped four in a row and six of its previous seven games in Raleigh.

02/23 10:32:57 ET

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