Rested Caps head into Carolina (Dec 16, 2016)

BY AP • December 15, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes don't expect to see the same Washington Capitals team that a month ago jumpstarted their current seven-game home winning streak.

For starters, the Capitals will be rested and not coming off a tough road game at Chicago the night before, and Washington is now one of the hotter teams in the league, having won five straight over an eight-day span.

"We're very familiar with them because they're a team we play a lot in our division, and they've certainly got it going," Carolina coach Bill Peters said. "There are lots of teams that have it going in the Metro (Division) and they are one of them.

"We know what we're up against, especially teams that are on fire now, but that goes both ways," Peters added. "We're up to sixth now in the league on the power play so we're going to be aggressive and push the pace."

In addition to Washington's winning streak in the Eastern Conference, Philadelphia has won 10 straight, while Pittsburgh and Columbus have each strung together seven wins in a row.

Carolina's home winning streak is impressive and has included wins over division leaders Montreal and San Jose, and a Washington team that was only able to generate 21 shots in a 5-1 loss at PNC Arena on Nov. 12.

"Teams change lots in the course of a month," Peters said when asked about the Capitals recent success. "They change for numerous reasons, you change because of health issues, scheduling issues, playing better or playing worse -- one or the other. Right now, there are lots of teams gaining traction and playing better than they were earlier in the year."

Carolina extended its home winning streak on Tuesday night with a wild, 8-6 victory over Vancouver in which goalie Cam Ward was pulled. Peters said he'll be going back to his starter in net Friday night, giving Ward his 17 th start in the last 19 games.

"It looked like the puck was a 10-pound weight on our stick the other night and when we pulled (Cam) it was by no means a reflection on the goaltending, I was looking for a spark," Peters said.

"We're going right back to Wardo."

Ward has 37 career starts against Washington, including a career-high four shutouts against an opponent.

Washington has outscored its opposition 18-8 during its five-game winning streak in which the Capitals have climbed within four points of Pittsburgh for the Metropolitan Division lead.

"We're getting contributions throughout the whole lineup and it makes life a lot easier," Washington coach Barry Trotz said. "It has started to show some consistency."

Washington has allowed the third fewest goals in the NHL.

And Washington has done a lot of its damage recently without punch from Alex Ovechkin, who has 1 goal and two assists during the winning streak.

One interesting matchup to watch Friday night will be Washington's power play, which has converted on 5 of 10 chances over the last three games, against the No. 1 penalty killing unit in the league. Carolina has allowed just two power play goals since Oct. 28, running at a 92.3 percent clip for the season.

"The power play has been really key for us, especially when the outcome is still in doubt," Trotz said.

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