It’s a new year for the Carolina Hurricanes, a team hoping that this one will be much different than the past eight.
Entering play on Tuesday, the Hurricanes are just one point out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings thanks to a huge surge in mid and late-December wherein they put together a season-saving 7-1-0 run.
The high-flying Canes’ big month came to an end with a 3-2 loss to St. Louis on Saturday, but luckily for them, they are still within striking distance. A win tonight coupled with an Islanders loss (vs. Boston) would throw them into the second wild-card spot.
For that to happen, though, they’ll have to take care of business against the Metropolitan Division’s top dog - the Washington Capitals.
Scott Darling battled in Saturday’s loss, but his performance didn’t warrant him getting the net again tonight. Cam Ward will be in the crease for Carolina, hoping to continue what has been a truly dominant run that has dated back to his 300th career win in Vegas (6-0-0 in six starts with a .935 save percentage).
Haydn Fleury will also be in the lineup for the first time since the December 19 collapse in Toronto. Klas Dahlbeck, who likely had his best game as a Hurricane on Friday against the Penguins, will be a healthy scratch tonight.
Rookie center Lucas Wallmark will draw into his second game of the year after netting his first NHL goal in St. Louis. Marcus Kruger remains on the shelf with a lower-body injury.
Here’s how the Hurricanes will lineup in tonight’s bout with the Capitals.
Sebastian Aho - Jordan Staal - Teuvo Teravainen
Brock McGinn - Derek Ryan - Elias Lindholm
Jeff Skinner - Lucas Wallmark - Phil di Giuseppe
Joakim Nordstrom - Victor Rask - Justin Williams
Jaccob Slavin - Brett Pesce
Haydn Fleury - Justin Faulk
Noah Hanifin - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Injuries and Scratches: Marcus Kruger (lower-body), Lee Stempniak (upper-body), Josh Jooris (healthy), Klas Dahlbeck (healthy)
Let’s hope that this lineup brings their A-game tonight after what was, seemingly, a rough start to their morning skate.
Peters nnnnnot happy with the effort thus far. Some language I can’t repeat on this family-friendly account.— Cory Lavalette (@corylav) January 2, 2018
After a 5-6-1 month of October, it looked like the Washington Capitals might start to fall off after years of being among the NHL’s most dominant regular season teams.
Yeah, they haven’t fallen off yet.
Winners of two consecutive games and 19 of their last 28, the Capitals will be shorthanded tonight. Defenseman Matt Niskanen will not be in the lineup due to injury and the status of star first-line center Nicklas Backstrom remains up in the air.
Braden Holtby is expected to get the nod in net for the Capitals. While his numbers aren’t quite where we are used to seeing them (.918 save percentage and 2.63 goals against average in 30 appearances), the Vezina-level goalie will surely be a tall task for an improving, yet still inconsistent, Hurricanes offense.
Here’s how the Capitals will lineup - the only the potential exception being Backstrom, pending his availability tonight.
Alex Ovechkin - Chandler Stephenson - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky - Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey
Dmitry Orlov - Taylor Chorney
Injuries and Scratches: Matt Niskanen (upper-body), Nicklas Backstrom (illness, game-time decision)