The Washington Capitals visit the Carolina Hurricanes tonight for round two of the six round heavyweight bout between division rivals. Last week, the Caps stole two points from Carolina as one of the leading scorers in the NHL, Alexander Semin, lit the lamp twice in the final three minutes to give his club a 3-2 win. Semin's game-winner came with just 10.9 seconds left in the contest.
The Hurricanes showed a lot of resiliency though as they came right back with a gutsy effort the very next night to defeat the Ottawa Senators, 2-1. But unfortunately, they lost any gained momentum by losing to Atlanta on Sunday, 5-2.
While the Canes have lost two of their last three, the Caps have won three in a row and have taken over first place in the division. (Both teams have 18 points, but Washington has a game in hand).
Brent Johnson has been the hero in goal for them for those games and was rewarded by winning NHL's third star of the week. New goalie acquisition Jose Theodore makes the big bucks and supposedly is the "number one" goalie, but coach Bruce Boudreau is riding the hot hand and will be staying with Johnson until he plays his way out of the lineup.
Canes fans are hoping that will happen tonight.
The Hurricanes used a somewhat different goalie strategy as they returned with their "number one" goalie, Cam Ward on Sunday, even though backup Michael Leighton had a very strong game against Ottawa on Friday night.
But now, coach Laviolette announced that he will be going with Leighton in goal for tonight's game. Last year's top goalie in the AHL currently has a save percentage of .921 and GAA of 2.37.
Johnson has a GAA of 2.11 and a save percentage of .931.
The Hurricanes are 3-3 at home while the Capitals are 2-4-1 on the road.
Some good news for Carolina is that a few of their injured players will be returning to the ice. Matt Cullen will be playing after missing the past five games with a groin injury. Joni Pitkanen practiced with the team and should be returning after missing the last eight games, and Brandon Sutter could also be back in the lineup after missing eight games.
The recent lines in practice were as follows-
- Staal, Ruutu, Whitney
- Cullen, Walker, Samsonov
- Brind'Amour, LaRose, Bayda
- Sutter, Helminen, Brookbank
- Gleason, Pitkanen
- Corvo, Wallin
- Seidenberg, Babchuk
Frank Kaberle has also been skating and is close to making a return as well, although it probably will not happen tonight.
If you are curious about Washington's perspective, check out Japer's Rink.
If anything new comes up, either Cory or I will cover it at lunchtime. Game time is at 7 and it will be broadcast by FS Carolinas.
Question for the Canes tickets giveaway, worth 10 Canes Country Points-
Guess the correct final score of the game tonight, including the winning team, and win 10 points. There can be more than one winner for this particular question.
(For instance, if you want to choose the final score of 3-2, Hurricanes, and someone else has already posted that result, you may post it again anyway and both of you would win 10 points if that occurred.)
One entry per user and guesses are cut off at game time.