The Washington Capitals (32-28-5, 69 points) host the Carolina Hurricanes (24-27-14, 62 points) for a 7pm faceoff tonight at Verizon Center. The Caps (4-6-0 in their last ten games) are in game four of a five game homestand, three points out of the playoffs behind Winnipeg, but two games in hand, and five points behind the Florida Panthers for tops in the Southeast Division with both teams playing the same number of games.
“They’ll be ready to go, they know what’s at stake,” Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter said on his team. “It’s playoff hockey.”
The last two games against the Carolina Hurricanes haven’t gone too well for the Caps. January 20th they loss 3-0 in Carolina and February 20th they loss 5-0 in Carolina. Overall the Caps are 3-2 against the Hurricanes this season as the Caps have beaten them the previous two times at Verizon and the first game in Carolina earlier this season.
The Caps overall are on a 120 minute goal drought after being shutout in their previous two games during their five game homestand. It’s the first time since March of 2001 that the Caps have been shutout in back to back home games. The Caps have also gone over 138 minutes without scoring against the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Caps power play is also continuing to struggle, 2 for it’s last 34, and during the 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, the Caps never got a power play opportunity.
Michal Neuvirth (9-11-3, 2.85 GAA, ,900 Save pct and a 2.20 GAA and .914 Save pct. during his six straight starts) is in goal tonight for the Caps.
Mike Knuble, Roman Hamrlik and John Erskine are the likely healthy scratches tonight. For Knuble it’s the eighth time out of the last thirteen games that he is a scratch. Hamrlik is a healthy scratch for the seventh straight game.
The Caps line up tonight could look like: Ovechkin-Laich-Johansson, Chimera-Perreault-Semin, Hendricks-Beagle-Brouwer, Aucoin-Halpern-Ward.
“Getting a faster line up again and these guys aren’t as big as Philly was,” Hunter said on why he put Keith Aucoin back in the line up and took Mike Knuble out. “Just get some offense going. [He] had a big game in Toronto and scored and had an assist. We need some goals.”
Tomas Vokoun will back up Michal Neuvirth tonight after missing last game to a lower body injury. Hunter says Vokoun is “100 percent” and Hunter added on Vokoun, “Just want to get him practice time cause he was off 2 or 3 days.”
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Karl Alzner and Jay Beagle had to say following the morning skate today.
Dale Hunter Morning Skate Audio
Karl Alzner Morning Skate Audio
Jay Beagle Morning Skate Audio