Capitals-Hurricanes Preview

BY foxsports • December 21, 2015

The Washington Capitals weren't content with four straight wins, and they certainly aren't satisfied with their cushy division lead.

After rallying to extend their winning streak, the Capitals look to spread the gap between themselves and the rest of the Metropolitan Division when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night.

Washington (24-6-2) jumped eight points ahead of the second-place New York Rangers with Sunday's 7-3 victory at Madison Square Garden. The Capitals pulled even with Dallas' NHL-leading 50 points with their fifth straight win, improving to 12-1-1 since Nov. 21.

''(There is) never enough of a cushion,'' Jason Chimera said. ''You want to get as much as you can.''

That was the mantra as Washington matched a season high in goals against the Rangers. The Capitals trailed 3-1 after the first period before scoring six unanswered goals, four in the second and two in the third.

Eleven Capitals tallied at least one point, led by two goals and an assist from Justin Williams and a goal and two assists from Marcus Johansson.

Washington is 5 for 7 on the power play in the last two games after going 1 for 13 in the previous four.

''I see a lot of good building blocks,'' said Williams. ''We still wanted to push forward, we still wanted to play hard.''

Braden Holtby surrendered three goals in the final 6:18 of the first period, but he turned aside all 21 shots he faced in the final 40 minutes. He finished with 33 saves to improve to 13-0-1 in his last 15 starts with a 1.91 goals-against average.

Holtby made 18 saves to earn the win in this season's first matchup against Carolina, a 4-1 home victory on Oct. 17. He is 8-4-0 with a 1.99 GAA in 12 career starts against the Hurricanes.

The Capitals have won five of their last six games at PNC Arena and five of the last six meetings in this series.

The final two wins of that bunch came against Carolina's Cam Ward, who has shined in the last two games after a slow start to the season. Ward posted an .893 save percentage through his first 22 games, but he has allowed just two goals on 55 shots in his last two.

Ward, though, has lost each of his last four starts against Washington with a 3.52 GAA, including the October loss.

Carolina (13-15-5) improved to 5-2-1 in its last eight games with Saturday's 2-1 win at Pittsburgh. The Hurricanes played five of their last six games away from home but return to PNC Arena where they have won four of six.

Carolina's power play was stuck in an 0-for-13 slump in five games from Nov. 23-Dec. 3, but the Hurricanes are an NHL-best 10 for 27 on the man advantage in eight contests since.

Jordan Staal and John-Michael Liles supplied the offense on Saturday with first-period power-play goals.

''It's always nice when the power play is clicking,'' Staal said. ''It gives us some extra motivation or extra confidence on the offensive side of the puck when it's going in on the power play.''

Washington, which has won its last three road games, ranks toward the top of the league with an 83.7 penalty kill percentage.



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