|DC needs to take advantage of their favorable schedule.|
Kirk Muller, who was named head coach of the Hurricanes just after Dale Hunter was appointed to lead the Caps, is expected to go with his workhorse, Cam Ward, in goal after he made 33 saves in a 4-2 win over the Bruins last night. Ward, who has started 39 games this year, is 16-16-6 in those 39 starts and has compiled a 3.09 GAA, .902 save percentage, and one shutout. Outside the crease, the Hurricanes will receive a boost up front, as Calder Memorial Trophy holder and third-leading scorer Jeff Skinner will return after missing more than a month with a concussion. Nevertheless, Carolina will be without three regulars: forward Chad LaRose (upper body), defenseman Jaroslav Spacek (upper body), and defenseman Joni Pitkanen (knee).
Michal Neuvirth seems likely to get the call in goal from Dale Hunter in order to give Tomas Vokoun a respite after starting eight consecutive games. Neuvirth, who has not started a game since giving up three goals on six shots in Buffalo on Demember 26th, is 5-7-2 on the year with 3.23 GAA, .886 save percentage, and one shutout. He has beaten the Hurricanes both times the Capitals have played them this season, stopping 53 of the 57 shots he has faced in the process. On the injury front, both Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) and Mike Green (groin) are on injured reserve and will not play. Cody Eakin, who was recalled on Thursday and played Friday at the expense of Mathieu Perreault, will probably will be in the lineup again, as will Tomas Kundratek, who has played the last two games over John Erskine and Jeff Schultz.
Puck drops 5:09-ish.