|The Capitals won 3-2 the last time Carolina came to town.|
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to the Verizon Center ice tonight as they attempt to continue their recent run of excellent play that has seen them charge up the Eastern Conference playoff ladder. Washinton Comes into tonight's game with 86 points in 68 games, which places them first in the Southeast Division and second in the Eastern Conference, coming off a 5-0 defeat of the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. The Hurricanes, making another late-season playoff charge, have 72 points in 67 games, which places them third in the Southeast and ninth in the East, one spot shy of the final playoff position. Carolina is coming off of a 3-2 overtime loss to the Thrashers Wednesday. This is the fifth of six meetings between these two rivals, the Capitals have won the first four.
Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice is expected to start his workhorse, Cam Ward, in nets for his team. Ward has been his usual reliable self this season, posting 28 wins, a 2.69 GAA and a .919 Save% to go along with two shutouts in 59 starts. Ward is a very solid goalie who always brings his A-game against the Caps, particularly at Verizon Center, and will be a tough test for the Capital offense. The Hurricanes are not currently experiencing any major injuries.
Bruce Boudreau is expected to give rookie Braden Holtby the start in goal following his shutout on Wednesday. Holtby has been brilliant his last five games with the Capitals, and has six wins, a 1.96 GAA, and .926 Save% in his eight starts this year. Outside the crease, Washington will likely be forced to be without star center Nicklas Backstrom, who skated yesterday at practice but still has a cast on his broken thumb. Backstrom is obviously still having difficulty gripping his stick, and is not expected to return to the lineup until Sunday's matinee with Chicago at the earliest. As such, there are no lineup changes expected for Bruce Boudreau's men, which means that Tom Poti remains out with an injury and Jay Beagle, DJ King, and Tyler Sloan are expected to be healthy scratches.
Puck drops for this Southeast Division clash 7:08-ish. Be sure to take out the good news in yesterday's Around the NHL post, and check back for updates from the morning skate this afternoon.