After taking down New York with the perfect blend of stifling defense and explosive offense, the Carolina Hurricanes look to do it again on the road against Washington.
The two-day break between games allowed the Canes to catch their breath before tonight’s front end of a back-to-back. Tonight’s game is the second in a five-game homestand for Washington.
Despite having the third-worst goal differential in the Eastern Conference and scoring the second-fewest goals in the NHL, the Capitals are just four points behind the Hurricanes in the tight Metropolitan standings.
One reason Washington keeps up in the standings is their ability to force overtime.
In 14 games in December, seven went beyond regulation, including the Capitals’ shootout win over the Hurricanes at PNC Arena on December 17.
Since that shootout victory, Washington is 3-3-2. A four-point game tonight, a win will put Washington back in the Wild Card spot.
A key matchup this evening will be the Capitals’ power play versus the Hurricanes’ penalty kill.
Washington was mired in a 0-for-34 streak on the power play earlier in the season.
Since mid-December, the Capitals’ power play is 8-for-29 (27.6 percent), and they have scored three power-play goals in their last two games.
In no surprise to anyone, Alex Ovechkin is part of the power play unit that has fueled Washington’s recent success. He scored a power-play goal in last Tuesday’s win at Pittsburgh and had two power-play tallies on December 21 in Columbus.
For the Hurricanes, Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov look to add to their five-game point streaks. This duo has combined for 24 points over the last five games.
These two Canes are not the only ones putting up points.
During the Canes’ four-game winning streak, Brent Burns has tallied a goal and five assists.
Over the same stretch, Jack Drury has two goals and two assists and Seth Jarvis has a goal and two assists.
Brady Skjei had a three-assist night in the last game versus New York.
The big decision for head coach Rod Brind’Amour will be starting goaltenders. Via the team, Brind’Amour said Pyotr Kochetkov and Antti Raanta will split starts tonight and tomorrow.
As of writing, there is no decision on tonight’s starter.
However, tonight is a divisional game. Kochetkov has a .934 save percentage over his last nine games, and the importance of this game in the standings may put him in the starter’s crease.
This means Raanta will get the start against St. Louis in PNC Arena, where he thrives. The Blues are two points out of a Wild Card spot and have also struggled to score goals, ranking 25th in the NHL in scoring.
Jesper Fast remains sidelined with a head injury, so expect Brendan Lemieux, who tallied a beauty of an assist in the last game versus New York, to remain in the lineup.
Check out Canes Country later today for more updates on starting lineups.
Here’s how to check out the action:
- Time: 7:00 PM ET
- Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, DC
- TV: Bally Sports South with Mike Maniscalco, play-by-play; Tripp Tracy, color analyst; Hanna Yates, in-game reporter; Shane Willis, analyst.
- Radio: 99.9 The Fan
- Line: ML: CAR -170; PL: CAR -1.5 +145