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Hurricanes vs. Capitals: Game Day Preview

Jiri Tlusty comes into tonight's game with a seven-game point streak (author's photo from Hurricanes vs. Capitals January 20, 2012).
Jiri Tlusty comes into tonight's game with a seven-game point streak (author's photo from Hurricanes vs. Capitals January 20, 2012).

The Carolina Hurricanes return to the RBC Center tonight to begin a six-game home stand, taking on the familiar division rival Washington Capitals at 7:30 pm. This is the fifth of six meetings between the two teams this season; Washington has won three of the first four games, including one overtime win. The Hurricanes won the last meeting, 3-0, at the RBC Center on January 20th.

The Hurricanes (22-26-11, 55 pts.) remain entrenched in the last spot in the Eastern Conference. They are coming off back-to-back weekend games with a 3-2 win at home Friday night against the San Jose Sharks and a 4-3 away loss at the hands of John Tavares the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

The Capitals (29-24-5, 63 pts.) are in somewhat of a surprising slump with a 3-5-2 record in their last ten games. They currently find themselves on the outside edge of the playoff chase, in tenth place albeit only one point behind both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets with games in hand. The Capitals are also coming off a back-to-back weekend, suffering a disappointing 2-1 regulation loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night after defeating the Florida Panthers by the same score Friday night.

As of this morning's skate there are several twists and turns in the Canes line-up, not the least of which is the injury situation of starting goaltender Cam Ward. Ward, stellar in net since the start of the year, began suffering a nagging injury last week that worsened to the point where he was unable to complete Saturday night's game. Today he is officially out of the line-up, and earlier this morning the Hurricanes announced they have recalled Mike Murphy from the Charlotte Checkers to back up Justin Peters. The Murphy press release follows with other game notes and news.

Canes News and Notes

This morning the Hurricanes recalled Mike Murphy from the Charlotte Checkers to back up Justin Peters in goal tonight. This is Murphy's second call-up of the season. Peters and Murphy began the season as the Checkers' goalie tandem, now for the first time ever they will be starting one-two for the Hurricanes.

Following is the press release from the team.

RALEIGH, NC – Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has recalled goaltender Mike Murphy from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL). Murphy will be available for the Hurricanes’ game tonight at the RBC Center against the Washington Capitals.

This marks the second NHL recall for the 23-year-old Murphy. The Kingston, Ont., native is 15-11-1 with a 2.71 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage in 29 games for the Checkers this season. He made his NHL debut earlier this season when he played in relief of Cam Ward on Dec. 6 at Calgary, and became the first goaltender in NHL history to record his first NHL loss before allowing his first NHL goal. The Hurricanes’ sixth-round selection (165th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Murphy has a career record of 46-31-3 with a 2.65 goals-against average in 88 career AHL games with Albany and Charlotte.

Prior to turning professional, Murphy (5’11", 172 lbs.) completed four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with Belleville, establishing Bulls regular-season franchise records for career wins (85), shutouts (8), goals-against average (2.42) and save percentage (.929). He was a two-time OHL All-Star, and was named Goaltender of the Year for the entire Canadian Hockey League (CHL) in 2008-09, after posting career-bests in wins (40), goals-against average (2.08), shutouts (5) and save percentage (.941), all of which were franchise records.

Jiri Tlusty, who is riding a seven-game points streak, did not practice with the team this morning, however, he will play tonight. Chad LaRose, who missed several games with an lower-body injury, did skate with the team today but will not be back for tonight's game.

Canes Lines:

  • Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Jerome Samson
  • Patrick Dwyer - Jeff Skinner - Jussi Jokinen
  • Andreas Nodl - Brandon Sutter - Drayson Bowman
  • Anthony Stewart - Tim Brent - Derek Joslin

  • Tim Gleason - Bryan Allen
  • Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
  • Jaroslav Spacek - Jamie McBain

  • Justin Peters
  • Mike Murphy

2011 - Justin Peters 4 197 1 3 12 3.65 135 123 .911 0

2011 - Mike Murphy 2 36 0 1 0 0.00 9 9 1.000 0

Injuries: Joni Pitkanen (concussion/knee; IR), Brian Boucher (lower body, IR), Tuomo Ruutu (upper body), Chad LaRose (lower body), Cam Ward (lower body) Capitals vs. Hurricanes - Preview Canes Now - Canes begin key stretch unsure about Ward Kirk Muller pre-game skate audio Tracking the Storm - Murphy will back up Peters Hurricanes face tough opponent in Capitals

Caps News and Notes

The big news for the Capitals has been the return of defenseman Mike Green, who made a successful return back to the Capitals' lineup on Saturday night after having abdominal surgery. Green played over 14 minutes and afterward reported no ill effects in his first game back.

Perpetual Canes-killer Alexander Semin doesn't appear to be affected by the team's recent slump, logging seven points in the last six games.

Katie Carrera of the Washington Post attended the Caps pregame skate and posted the following forward lines in the Capitals Insider blog:

  • Alex Ovechkin - Mathieu Perreault - Troy Brouwer
  • Matt Hendricks - Brooks Laich - Mike Knuble
  • Jason Chimera - Marcus Johansson - Alexander Semin
  • Jay Beagle - Jeff Halpern - Joel Ward

There was no update on defensive pairings (other than to report that Mike Green is in the lineup) and Tomas Vokoun is expected to be in net. Carrera did report via twitter that defenseman John Erskine took part in extra post-practice work with Michal Neuvirth, so it is unsure whether he will be in the game.

2011 - Tomas Vokoun 42 2345 23 14 94 2.41 1187 1093 .921 4

2011 - Michal Neuvirth 21 1094 6 9 56 3.07 528 472 .894 2

Nicklas Backstrom remains sidelined as he continues to recover from a concussion.

For more Washington Capitals news and game information, tune in to SB Nation affiliate Japers' Rink.

The game will be broadcast tonight in HDTV on NBC Sports Network (the artist formerly known as Versus) and also on WCMC 99.9 The Fan. Game time is 7:30 pm. We'll have the open game thread starting at 7:00 pm, and Bob and Brian will be live blogging from the game. See you there.