NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, December 20th
(All times Eastern)
Washington Capitals (18-13-3) at Carolina Hurricanes (14-13-7), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Carolina Hurricanes will try to improve to 3-0
against the Washington Capitals when they host Friday's Metropolitan Division
clash at PNC Arena.
The Hurricanes already have earned at least a split of the four-game season
series against the Caps, winning a pair of road meetings earlier in the
Carolina notched a 3-2 regulation win in D.C. on Nov. 10 and then recorded a
4-1 decision on Dec. 3. Despite those wins, the Capitals have still taken four
of the last seven overall meetings in this series and Washington also has
claimed two straight and six of the past eight encounters in Raleigh.
The Hurricanes, who are 4-1-2 over their last six outings, enter Thursday's
divisional battle in fourth place in the Metro standings, one point behind
Philadelphia for the division's last automatic playoff berth. The Flyers are
off on Friday, but they pulled ahead of Carolina after Thursday's home win
Carolina halted a three-game slide in its last trip to the ice, as it salvaged
the final test of a four-game road trip by winning in Phoenix last Saturday.
The well-rested Hurricanes hope to pick up where they left off tonight, as
they aim to build off Saturday's 3-1 win in the desert.
The 'Canes were tied at 1-1 with the Coyotes after two periods before Jeff
Skinner notched the game-winner three minutes into the final stanza. The score
remained 2-1 until Eric Staal registered an empty-net goal to seal it with six
Nathan Gerbe also scored and Staal totaled three points on a goal and two
assists. Justin Peters made 37 saves for the win.
Skinner has scored a goal in three straight games and has eight tallies over
his last seven contests. He also has two goals and three assists in Carolina's
two wins against the Caps this season.
"When you're getting chances, that's the way it goes sometimes. We're creating
chances as a line and I've been lucky to capitalize on a few," said Skinner.
Beginning with tonight's tilt, the Hurricanes will play four of their next six
games on home ice. Carolina is 7-6-4 as the host this season.
The Capitals will try to bounce back from just their second regulation loss in
the last nine games when they take the ice on Friday. Washington dropped a 5-2
decision Tuesday in Philadelphia, dropping the club to 6-2-1 over the last
Washington posted a 5-4 shootout win in the opener of a home-and-home series
with visiting Philadelphia on Sunday, but the Flyers answered back with a
victory in their home portion of the series. The loss dropped the Caps to
6-6-3 as the road club this season, a record that pales in comparison to
Washington's 12-7-0 mark as the host.
With the scored tied at 2-2 late in the second period, Philadelphia was given
a five-minute power play after Flyers forward Brayden Schenn was drilled by
Washington's Tom Wilson, who was given a 10-minute misconduct for the charge.
The Flyers made the Caps pay by scoring twice during the lengthy advantage,
with Mark Streit and Jakub Voracek tallying the goals for Philly.
Wilson had a disciplinary hearing with the league for his hit, but was
informed on Thursday that he will not be suspended.
"To be honest with you, I don't think it was a dirty play," Wilson's teammate
Alex Ovechkin said. "He saw the hit coming, he turned, and Willy (Tom Wilson)
is a big boy. It's always dangerous out there, it's hockey. When you get hit,
you have to be ready, especially at the boards. I don't think he was ready, I
think he was going to turn, but Willy just finished his check."
Ovechkin and Eric Fehr scored on Tuesday for the Capitals, who had won four of
five heading into the finale of the home-and-home. Braden Holtby allowed five
goals on 35 shots in the loss.
Mikhail Grabovski is expected to return tonight after the forward missed the
last two games for the Capitals. Meanwhile, Carolina defenseman Brett
Bellemore and forward Elias Lindholm are questionable for Thursday's clash.
12/20 10:56:47 ET