Hurricanes-Capitals Preview

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

scoring.

Washington, outscored 6-0 while losing two straight, was last

shut out in back-to-back home games March 13-15, 2001, by Anaheim

and Carolina.

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

said.

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

in 2011-12.

“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

NHL shutout.

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.