November 28 vs. Carolina Hurricanes at Verizon Center
Time: 5:00 pm TV: Comcast SportsNet Radio: 820AM, 1500AM and XM
Carolina Hurricanes (10-10-2)
Washington Capitals (16-6-2)
The Capitals conclude a quick two-game homestand on Sunday afternoon when the Carolina Hurricanes make their first Verizon Center visit of the 2010-11 season. The game also finishes the November portion of the Caps’ schedule. Washington is 9-2-2 thus far this month.
Sunday’s game marks the third straight for the Capitals against a Southeast Division opponent. The Caps ended a three-game losing streak with a solid 3-2 win over the Hurricanes in Carolina on Wednesday, then followed that up with a dominant 6-0 throttling of the Tampa Bay Lightning at Verizon Center on Black Friday.
Alexander Semin notched a natural hat trick and Semyon Varlamov made 17 saves to record his third career regular season shutout in the win against Tampa Bay.
The Caps scored a goal on the two-man advantage, and they stopped Tampa Bay during the Lightning’s 1:11 with the two-man advantage in the second period.
The Caps got goals from three different defensemen in Friday’s win, and none of the came off the stick of Mike Green. Green has been sidelined for each of the Caps’ last two games, but could be ready to return on Sunday when the Capitals face the Hurricanes.
“He might,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau, of the possibility of Green returning to the lineup for Sunday’s game. “There’s a good chance. He came through practice pretty good today. We’ll know [Sunday] when we have our 9 o’clock [a.m.] meeting on what the deal is.”
With the victory over the Bolts, the Caps pushed the margin between themselves and the Lightning in the Southeast Division standings to six points. Heading into Sunday’s game between the two teams, Washington has a lead of a dozen points over fourth-place Carolina in the Southeast standings.
The Caps have defeated the Hurricanes twice on the road this season, outscoring the Canes by a combined total of 6-2 in those two tilts. After forging a 2-0 lead after the first 40 minutes of Wednesday’s game in Carolina, the Hurricanes stormed back for a couple goals early in the third to draw even at 2-2.
Washington’s Karl Alzner drew a slashing call on Carolina rookie Jeff Skinner late in the third period, and the Caps needed just five seconds of that minor penalty for Alex Ovechkin to set up Brooks Laich for what proved to be the game-winning goal. Laich’s game-winner was Washington’s fifth game-winner that came on the power play this season.
With Friday’s win over the Lightning, the Caps raised their record against Southeast Division opponents to 6-2 on the season. Both of the losses have come at the hands of the Atlanta Thrashers.
Carolina, on the other hand, is just 1-3 against Southeast Division foes in 2010-11.
“It’s so important, our divisional games,” says Boudreau. “You look at our division right now, it’s not the weak sister everybody used to think it is. Atlanta is playing great. Carolina just goes into Boston and beats Boston, Tampa was on a five-game winning streak and every time Florida plays, whether they win or lose, they wind up with 40 shots on goal.
“Our division I think is really tough. There is a big importance any time we play somebody in our division.”
Overall, Washington is 12-3-2 in its last 17 games. The Capitals have scored three or more goals in 13 of those 17 contests and are third in the league with an average of 3.42 goals scored per game.
Varlamov has started each of the last two games, allowing two or fewer goals in each. It’s the first time Washington has allowed two or fewer goals in consecutive games in nearly a month; the last time was Oct. 27-30 when it did so in three road games at Carolina, Minnesota and Calgary, respectively.
Washington’s 11-1-1 home ice record is the best in the league. Dating back to the last month of the 2008-09 season, the Capitals are now 45-6-9 in their last 60 regular season games on Verizon Center ice.
Carolina concludes a short two-game trip with Sunday’s game against the Caps before returning to Raleigh to host Dallas on Monday.
Earlier this month, the Hurricanes played a stretch during which they or their opponent scored seven or more goals is six games of a seven-game span. Since then, the Canes have outscored their foes by a combined 10-8 in the last four games, but have just a 1-1-2 record to show for it.
The Canes authored an impressive 3-0 win over the Bruins in Boston on Friday. After getting into town late on Thanksgiving night, the Hurricanes took the ice for the noon start in Boston and used strong special teams performance and some great goaltending from Cam Ward to get out of Beantown with two points.
The Hurricanes scored all three of their goals against the Bruins on the power play, needing just three extra-man chances to do so. Carolina killed off all four Boston power plays on the afternoon, and Ward made 37 stops in recording his 13th career shutout.
Ward did not play against the Capitals in Wednesday’s Washington’s win; his wife gave birth to a son early that morning and Ward was given the night off to rest up. Back-up goaltender Justin Peter started and played well in a losing effort against the Caps.
Expect Ward to be in the nets again on Sunday. He is 13-6-3 with three shutouts, a 2.60 GAA and a .919 save pct. lifetime against the Capitals. In a dozen career starts at Verizon Center, Ward is 5-4-2 with a 3.23 GAA and a .904 save pct.
Notes: Carolina head coach Paul Maurice is set to coach in the 1,000th game of his NHL career on Sunday in the District. In doing so, he will tie Hockey Hall of Famer Roger Neilson for 18th place on the NHL’s all-time games coached list. Maurice ranks sixth in games coached among active coaches, trailing only Ron Wilson, Jacques Martin, Marc Crawford, Joel Quenneville and Lindy Ruff.