Hurricanes-Capitals Preview

After squeaking out victories for a week and a half, the

Washington Capitals finally put together one of their best

performances of the season.

The Capitals look to build on that victory and extend their

winning streak to seven Friday night when they host a Carolina

Hurricanes team that has lost the first four contests in the season

series.

Washington (38-20-10) had to rally from a deficit in each of the

first five victories of its winning streak, but no comeback was

needed in Wednesday’s 5-0 win over Edmonton. Alex Ovechkin had two

goals and an assist to reach 601 career points, while Eric Fehr

scored twice in his return from a 22-game absence because of a

shoulder injury.

“It’s nice not to have to worry in the last five minutes in a

one-goal game,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I can’t remember the

last time that happened.”

Boudreau would have to think back to a 3-0 win over Pittsburgh

on Feb. 6 – a span of nine victories – for the last time the

Capitals had won by more than one goal.

Washington, two points ahead of Tampa Bay for first place in the

Southeast Division, finally got its power play working Wednesday,

scoring twice with the man advantage after going 3 for 40 in its

previous 14 games.

Ovechkin’s power-play goal in the second period was his first of

the season at the Verizon Center, and the Capitals had two

power-play goals in a game for the first time since a 6-0 win over

the Lightning on Nov. 26.

“That was the first time we scored two power-play goals in a

long time,” Fehr said. “It feels good to get that going. If we can

get the PP going we’re going to win a lot of games.”

Seeing Ovechkin get on track already has provided a boost. He’s

riding a six-game point streak and has six goals with 10 assists

over the last 11 games.

Ovechkin recorded just his fourth multigoal game of the season

Wednesday – he had 14 in 2009-10 – and the Capitals improved to

40-1-3 since the 2007-08 season when he scores at least twice.

The two-time Hart Trophy winner hasn’t had much luck finding the

back of the net lately against the Hurricanes, but he’s had a hand

in several goals.

Ovechkin’s three goals in 15 games against Carolina since the

start of the 2008-09 season are his fewest versus any Eastern

Conference opponent in that span, but his 22 assists against them

are his most. He has one goal and six assists in four games against

the Hurricanes this season.

The Capitals have won the last three over Carolina by 3-2 scores

after winning the first meeting 3-0.

Carolina (31-26-10), in the mix for one of the final playoff

spots in the East, arrives in Washington after a 3-2 overtime loss

to Atlanta on Wednesday.

Erik Cole and Troy Bodie scored for the Hurricanes, who got off

to another sluggish start. Carolina was down 2-0 heading into the

first intermission Wednesday after trailing 2-1 through one period

in Friday’s 5-2 loss to Chicago.

“We’ve got to get a little more concerted jump,” coach Paul

Maurice said. “I don’t think we were nearly as aggressive on our

forecheck or physically aggressive.”