|There's been a lot of this recently in Caps land.|
Cam Ward will start for Kirk Muller's men despite allowing four goals on 23 shots in a overtime loss against Tampa Bay in his last start. Ward, who has been the Hurricanes' workhorse for the last six years, is 22-19-11 on the year with a 2.84 GAA, .909 save percentage, and three shutouts, including a 23-save blanking the last time of Washington the last time he faced the Capitals. Outside the crease, the Hurricanes will be without two of their key players: defenseman Joni Pitkanen, who is out with a knee injury and concussion that has caused him to miss 40 games, and forward Tuomo Ruutu, who has an upper-body ailment that has kept him sidelined for almost three weeks now.
Michal Neuvirth is expected to start in goal for the sixth consecutive game despite losing his last two contests. Neuvirth is 9-11-3 on the year with a 2.85 GAA, .900 save percentage, and two shutouts; he made 30 saves on 33 shots in his last game against the Hurricanes, a relief appearance two weeks ago. On the injury front, the Caps are still without star center Nicklas Backstrom, who is not even in the country, as he is visiting family in Sweden as he tries to recuperate from a concussion. In terms of lineup changes, Dale Hunter will keep his defense intact, with Roman Hamrlik and John Erskine remaining benched. He will, however, change his forward corps, with Mike Knuble being benched for Keith Aucoin.
Puck drops 7:08-ish. As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.