Washington Capitals (5-3-0-10, 2nd SE) v. Carolina Hurricanes (4-3-0-8, 3rd SE)
7:00 pm RBC Center, Raleigh, NC
The Caps start a four-day, three-game road trip with the first game of a six-game season series with division rival Carolina tonight from Raleigh. Surprisingly, it's Carolina's home opener, as the Hurricanes started the season with a pair of games in Helsinki, Finland, then returned to North America and went on a four-game road trip, with stops in Ottawa, Vancouver, San Jose and Los Angeles.
Carolina receives balanced scoring, with seven different players having tallied two or three goals in their seven games. C Eric Stall paces the club with three goals and three assists. RW Eric Cole is off to a good start as well, with four points and plus-6 rating.
Cam Ward is Carolina's undisputed No. 1 goalie. He's played in six of the team's seven games, and is 4-2-0 with a 2.78 GAA and .923 save percentage.
The Capitals have had their difficulty making the trip to Carolina in recent memory, having lost nine of their last 12 games at the RBC Center. They hope to get the road trip off to a good start tonight.
"It's going to be a tough trip, but everyone has them," Coach Bruce Boudreau said
One player they need to get going is LW Alex Ovechkin. The captain has gone four games without a goal and three straight without a point. The last time Ovechkin went four consecutive games without recording a point was Feb. 15-21, 2007.
The Great 8 has yet to score on the power play after doing so 13 times last season.
But Ovechkin insinuated himself into the play against Atlanta Saturday night, with a team leading nine hits, and his coach thinks it's just a matter of time.
"His will come," Boudreau said after the OT win over the Thrashers. "There's once a year, he goes through a stretch where he doesn't get any points, and he doesn't score any goals. And then he goes 30 games out of 33 [with points]. And that's just the way he is. But you can see he's getting a little closer, a little frustrated. But he's getting a little closer."
Washington hopes that some of the walking wounded will return to action on the trip as well. RW Matt Bradley and D Mike Green are both expected to fully play tonight after taking the morning skate, but C Boyd Gordon and John Carlson, who has skipped a couple practices with a lower body injury, are still questionable. C Marcus Johansson did not skate this morning and will not play either.
Two players not on the trip are G Semyon Varlamov, struggling with a sore groin, and D Tom Poti, nursing an LBI as well. Poti may join the team at some point on the trip, but Varlamov will not.
D Brian Fahey was called up from AHL Hershey to take Poti's place on the roster, and Braden Holtby will back up Michal Neuvirth, and possibly make his NHL debut sometime on the trip.
WAS: LW Alexander Semin (5-3-8, +4), LW Alex Ovechkin (4-4-8, -1), Michal Neuvirth (5-2-0, 2.53, .919)
CAR: C Eric Staal (3-3-6, even), LW Jussi Jokinen (2-4-6, -3), Cam Ward (4-2-0, 2.78, .923)
WAS: G Semyon Varlamov (groin-OUT), D Tom Poti (LBI-OUT), C Marcus Johansson (foot-OUT), C Boyd Gordon (undisclosed-QUE), D John Carlson (LBI-PROB)
CAR: LW Jiri Tlusty (knee-QUE)
WAS: GF/G: 2.88 (11th); GA/G: 2.62 (12th); PP: 12.1% (23rd); PK: 88.6% (7th)
CAR: GF/G: 2.86 (13th); GA/G: 3.00 (T-20th); PP: 12.9% (21st); PK: 76.7 (25th)