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National Hockey League

Caps visit Hurricanes seeking 3rd straight win

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Capitals will play for pride and a third straight victory on Thursday when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.

Washington was officially eliminated from playoff contention Wednesday after the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets clinched the Eastern Conference's final two postseason berths. The Capitals will miss the postseason tournament for the first time since 2007.

Carolina was knocked out of playoff consideration earlier and hasn't made the postseason since 2009.

The Capitals are coming off two straight wins, but the modest streak came on the heels of an 0-3-2 stretch that dealt a serious blow to the club's postseason chances.

Washington last played on Tuesday when Alex Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the season and added two assists to help the club down the St. Louis Blues, 4-1.

Ovechkin recorded his fifth season of 50 goals or more to become the fifth player in NHL history to post at least five 50-goal seasons in his first nine campaigns. The other players on that list are Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Guy Lafleur and Brett Hull.

Still, the individual achievement is likely little consolation for the Russian sniper, who has been criticized often during a trying season in which he is sporting a minus-34 rating.

Nicklas Backstrom added two goals on Tuesday and Mikhail Grabovski also scored in the win. Braden Holtby had 28 saves in the win as the Caps swept the two- game season series with St. Louis.

Washington is 2-1-0 on a four-game road trip that ends tonight and the club is 16-17-7 as the guest this season. The Caps will cap their season this weekend with a two-game homestand against Chicago and Tampa Bay.

Carolina enters Thursday having lost two straight and four of its last six games.

The Hurricanes dropped a 4-1 decision Tuesday in New York City, as Brad Richards scored a pair of power-play goals to help lead the Rangers to the easy win at Madison Square Garden.

Patrick Dwyer accounted for the lone Carolina goal and Cam Ward finished with 32 saves in the loss, which officially eliminated the Hurricanes from postseason consideration.

"I thought three of the four goals that they scored were too easy," Ward said.

Anton Khudobin will get the start in net for Carolina. He is 3-0 with a 1.99 goals against average and .943 save percentage in three career games against the Caps.

Carolina has won three of four meetings against the Capitals in 2013-14 after Washington claimed the final three encounters of last season's series. The Caps have won three in a row and seven of their past nine tilts in Raleigh, N.C.

04/10 11:08:42 ET

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