Hurricanes-Capitals Preview

The Washington Capitals are second in the Metropolitan Division,

but they’re toward the bottom of the NHL in regulation

victories.

The Carolina Hurricanes may also be looking to settle matters

before overtime.

Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals will go for a third straight win

Tuesday night against the sputtering Hurricanes.

Washington (14-11-2) has won six games in regulation, and only

one has come during a 6-4-2 stretch.

The Capitals needed to go beyond the standard 60 minutes to end

a four-game slide Friday, beating Montreal 3-2 in a shootout. They

followed it up a day later with a 3-2 overtime road victory over

the New York Islanders, as Ovechkin scored in the extra session

after Nicklas Backstrom tallied short-handed with 49 seconds left

in regulation.

“We were lucky at the end and then we got it done in overtime,”

coach Adam Oates said. “At the end of the day, you want to do the

right things out there and we did.”

Ovechkin has been doing that for most of the season, ranking

among the league leaders with 21 goals and four have been

game-winners – two in overtime.

The three-time Hart Trophy winner has eight goals and one assist

over the past nine games, and has four and two, respectively, over

the past four meetings with Carolina (10-12-5).

Ovechkin scored on one of his eight shots in the most recent

meeting Oct. 10, a 3-2 home loss that ended the Capitals’

three-game win streak in the series.

The Hurricanes, who have won only two of seven games beyond

regulation, are mired in a 2-5-1 stretch overall and had lost six

straight on the road before a 4-3 victory at New Jersey on

Wednesday.

A good portion of their struggles lately can be attributed to a

power play that ranks among the worst in the NHL. That unit is 3

for 41 over the past 13 games and is operating at a 12.0 percent

success rate for the season.

Carolina was blanked on the man advantage for the third straight

contest Sunday, going 0 for 6 in a 3-2 loss to Vancouver.

“When you get a chance, the guys who are out there have to

execute,” coach Kirk Muller said. “If they can’t execute, I guess

we’ve got to start looking for other guys in our lineup and give

them the opportunity.

“Everyone runs the same plays. It’s a matter of getting the job

done, and do it at a higher tempo. I don’t know – maybe some of our

guys can’t make the plays.”

Jiri Tlusty seems to be one of them, managing one point with a

minus-8 rating in 10 games. The left wing has seven points after

totaling a career-high 38 in the lockout-shortened 2012-13

season.

A visit to the nation’s capital may not help, either. Tlusty has

been held without a point in his last four games there, getting

just one in the past 10.

Unlike Tlusty, Eric Staal continues to do his part, compiling 10

points in nine games, giving him a team-leading 19 on the season.

The captain has 12 in the last nine meetings with the Capitals.

Carolina may get a lift from the possible return of Andrej

Sekera, who missed two games with an upper-body injury. Second on

the team with 13 points, the defenseman has three goals and two

assists in four games.