Series (Game 4 of 6)

Washington leads 5-1

Game 1: Wednesday, October 27th
Game 2: Wednesday, November 24th
Game 3: Sunday, November 28th
Game 4: Sunday, December 26th
Game 5: Friday, March 11th
Game 6: Tuesday, March 29th

Capitals 3

(21-12-5, 47 pts)

Hurricanes 2

(15-15-4, 34 pts)

7:00 PM ET, December 26, 2010

PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina

1 2 3 T
WSH 1 2 03
CAR 0 1 12

A. Ovechkin (Capitals - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

S. Varlamov (Capitals - G): Saves: 33, Save Pct.: .943

T. Ruutu (Hurricanes - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Capitals-Hurricanes Preview


Moral victories aren't cutting it for the Washington Capitals. Fortunately for them, they've made a habit of getting actual wins against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Capitals look to beat the Hurricanes for a fourth consecutive time this season when they meet at the RBC Center on Sunday night.

Washington (20-12-5), although tied with Tampa Bay atop the Southeast Division, is mired in a 2-6-3 stretch that began with an eight-game losing streak.

The team turned in a strong effort against NHL-leading Pittsburgh on Thursday, but fell 3-2 in a shootout in a preview of the Winter Classic on New Year's Day. It appeared Mike Green won it for the Capitals in overtime, as the Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury reached over the goal line while covering the puck, but the video review was inconclusive.

"I'm sick of talking about intentions and trying to measure ourselves and trying to play well," said left wing Brooks Laich, who has an assist in three consecutive games. "We got to win hockey games. That's the bottom line: Win hockey games."

Washington has done that against the Hurricanes (15-14-4) this season, winning all three meetings while outscoring them 6-2 in two visits to Carolina.

Alex Ovechkin has five assists in those three meetings, and he netted the deciding shootout goal in a 3-2 home win Nov. 28. The superstar left wing, however, hasn't scored a goal in his last nine games versus the Hurricanes while collecting 13 assists in that span.

That doesn't seem to bode well for Ovechkin, who has two goals in his last 19 games overall and is trying to avoid matching his career-worst goal drought. The two-time Hart Trophy winner went nine straight without a goal from Nov. 17-Dec. 2, equaling his mark set from Oct. 13-Nov. 8, 2008.

While Ovechkin tries to snap his eight-game funk, Green is looking to build on his goal from Thursday, ending a 14-game stretch without a tally.

"I thought it was (Green's) best game in a long time," coach Bruce Boudreau told the team's official website. "He played good defensively and yet he jumped into the play and made things happen offensively."

The NHL's top-scoring defenseman last season has two goals and two assists in his last 18 games, and no points over his four most recent matchups with Carolina.

Still, the Capitals have taken eight of a possible 10 points from their last five games (3-0-2) at the RBC Center.

The Hurricanes may need to show some improvement on the penalty kill in order to avoid a third consecutive defeat overall. They've allowed opponents to convert 8 of 27 power plays over the last six games, with at least one tally coming in each contest.

The unit, ranking 28th in the NHL with a 77.5 percent success rate, has allowed two goals in each of the last two games.

Those problems were on display in Thursday's 3-2 loss to Montreal. Carolina squandered a second-period lead by giving up both power-play goals in the final 3:03 of the session.

"We've got to do a better job of being more aggressive, getting in shot lanes and paying the price," center Eric Staal told the team's official website.

Staal, the team leader with 16 goals and 34 points, has nine goals and 10 assists in the last 13 games against Washington, finding the net in each of the last two.