The Washington Capitals need to snap out of a scoring slump if
they want to win a fifth consecutive Southeast Division title.
Breaking a lengthy scoreless stretch against the Carolina
Hurricanes would be a step in that direction.
Washington looks to avoid getting shut out for a team-record
third consecutive time Tuesday night when it hosts the Hurricanes,
who have blanked the Capitals in the last two matchups.
While Washington (32-28-5) is just outside the Eastern
Conference playoff picture and five points behind first-place
Florida in the division race, it has picked a bad time to stop
Washington, outscored 6-0 while losing two straight, was last
shut out in back-to-back home games March 13-15, 2001, by Anaheim
Despite outshooting Philadelphia 34-23 on Sunday, the Capitals
fell 1-0 in the third game of a five-game homestand.
“You can’t be frustrated. You’ve just got to go ‘the goalie was
hot’ and just keep getting pucks to the net,” coach Dale Hunter
The Capitals have not done much of that lately against Carolina,
getting outshot 73-40 in the last two meetings.
After snapping the Caps’ 12-game point streak in the series with
a 3-0 home win Jan. 20, the Hurricanes (24-27-14) routed Washington
5-0 in Raleigh on Feb. 20. The Capitals, though, have gone 4-0-1 in
the last five matchups at the Verizon Center. Each of their last
eight home wins over Carolina have come by one goal.
The Hurricanes, 14th in the East with 62 points, have gone 1-1-3
since the most recent win over the Caps. They lost 4-3 in overtime
to Tampa Bay on Saturday.
“Our guys are competing and playing at a high level,” said coach
Kirk Muller, whose club opens a season-high five-game trip. “I’m
really happy with the performance.”
Muller couldn’t be any happier with the play of Eric Staal, who
has seven goals and 13 assists during an 11-game point streak. With
a point Tuesday, Staal will have the club’s longest run since it
relocated from Hartford in 1997.
The captain has four goals and a team-high eight points versus
Washington this season.
The Capitals need their captain to start producing. Alex
Ovechkin has three goals in the last 10 games and his turnover
Sunday led to the lone tally.
Washington hasn’t scored since Ovechkin’s OT goal Feb. 28. The
star forward, a combined plus-69 the past two seasons, is minus-9
“It’s just a period of time when you try hard but you can’t win
the game,” Ovechkin said following Monday’s practice. “Again, it’s
not over yet, and we’re going to fight through and we’re going to
win some games.”
Cam Ward will likely be in net to try and prevent that from
happening Tuesday. Ward lost his first two starts against
Washington this season before recording his 18th career shutout
Jan. 20 with 23 saves.
Ward missed the Feb. 20 matchup with a lower-body injury, but
Justin Peters stepped in and turned aside 17 shots for his first
The Capitals’ last goal versus Carolina came off the stick of
Dmitry Orlov 1:12 into the third period of a 2-1 home victory Jan.
15. Orlov’s winning score was his first career goal.