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Capitals play host to rival Hurricanes
(SportsNetwork.com) - Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals will shoot for a third straight victory when they host the rival Carolina Hurricanes in Tuesday's battle at Verizon Center.
The Capitals snapped a season-worst four-game slide with Friday's shootout triumph over visiting Montreal. Washington then notched an overtime victory the following night on the road, downing the New York Islanders on Ovechkin's game-winner at 2:07 of the extra session.
It was the Russian sniper's 21st marker of the season, giving Ovechkin the lead in the NHL's goal-scoring race. Alexander Steen of St. Louis is second with 20 goals.
Before Ovechkin's OT heroics on Saturday, Nicklas Backstrom tied things up for Washington by scoring with 49 seconds to go in regulation to force the extra session. Backstrom's equalizer came shortly after Thomas Vanek put the Islanders on top with 1:51 remaining in the third.
"That was a really good game right to the end. They got a big goal late, but we found a way," said Caps head coach Adam Oates.
Aaron Volpatti also scored for Washington and Braden Holtby made 37 saves for the win.
Tuesday's tilt is the second of five scheduled encounters this season between the Caps and Hurricanes, who were rivals in the now-defunct Southeast Division before both joining the Metropolitan Division for the 2013-14 campaign.
Carolina edged the Capitals, 3-2, in D.C. on Oct. 10, as Nathan Gerbe scored the tie-breaking goal for the 'Canes in the third period. It was Carolina's third win in its past five trips to the Verizon Center and halted Washington's three-game overall winning streak in the series.
Ovechkin scored a goal in the Oct. 10 loss and has compiled 66 points (25 goals, 41 assists) in 53 career games against Carolina.
The Hurricanes enter Tuesday's battle on a two-game slide and the club is 2-5-1 in its last eight trips to the ice.
Carolina has lost its last two tilts in regulation and was dealt a 3-2 setback by the visiting Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. Ryan Kesler scored twice and Eddie Lack stopped 29 pucks to lead the Canucks to the close win in Raleigh.
Gerbe and Jordan Staal scored for the Hurricanes, while Cam Ward made 27 saves in a losing effort. Ward yielded two goals on nine shots in the first period before stopping 20-of-21 attempts over the final 40 minutes.
"They pushed us out of the first period," 'Canes head coach Kirk Muller said. "They won all the battles, they were more competitive, they owned it around our net in the first period. We had one shot from our forwards in the first period."
Carolina is playing two straight and six of its next seven on the road, beginning with tonight's test in D.C. The Hurricanes are 4-6-1 as the guest this season, while Washington is 9-6-0 at Verizon Center.
Holtby will get the call in net for Washington tonight and is 4-2-0 with a 1.84 goals against average in six career games against Carolina. Ward is 16-11-4 with a 2.54 GAA in 32 lifetime tilts versus the Caps.
12/03 10:52:00 ET