Hurricanes-Capitals Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 10, 2013
The puck keeps going in for Alex Ovechkin, and the Washington Capitals have used his goal-scoring binge to surge to the top of the Southeast Division. Ovechkin looks to lead Washington to its sixth straight victory Thursday night when it hosts a Carolina Hurricanes team that has gone from the top of the division to near the bottom of the Eastern Conference in less than a month. The Capitals (21-17-2) are 5-0-0 in April and Ovechkin has eight goals in that span, giving him 26 on the season and moving him into a tie for first in the NHL with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos. Ovechkin scored for the sixth time in three games Tuesday night as the Capitals won 3-2 at Montreal. Washington stayed two points ahead of Winnipeg atop the Southeast, with a game in hand. "It's big two points for us right now," said two-time Hart Trophy winner Ovechkin, whose level of play looks to be back near its peak after dipping the last two seasons. "We beat a team in front of us (in the standings). "We know we can play against good teams. If we play hard and play our system it gives us results." The center on Ovechkin's line, Nicklas Backstrom, picked up two assists Tuesday and has 11 points - all assists - in the last five games. Eric Fehr and Jack Hillen also scored for Washington, which is 9-1-1 in its last 11. Hillen's goal gave the Capitals a 3-1 lead with less than 15 minutes to go in the game, but they had to hold on for the win after allowing the Canadiens to score with just over three minutes remaining. "We knew they were going to make a push, which they did," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "The building gets electric and it gets hard to play here. It's great for the guys to fight through that and experience that, because it's going to help down the road." After a 4-0 win at Washington on March 12, Carolina held a three-point lead over Winnipeg for first place in the Southeast. A 1-12-1 tailspin has followed, and the Hurricanes (16-21-2) are now 10 points behind the Capitals in the division and in 14th in the East - two points in front of last-place Florida. Carolina has lost six straight in regulation - three shy of the team record - after falling 5-3 to Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. "I don't want to necessarily make excuses or say we're not getting bounces or things aren't necessarily going our way," defenseman Justin Faulk said. "Obviously, they're not. We're not getting in the win column. But we're working. We've just got to find a way to get by this slump, I guess." It's easy to spot the turning point of the season. Carolina took a 2-0 lead in the first period against hated division rival Washington on March 14, but it's been all downhill after that. The Capitals rallied for a 3-2 win that started this 14-game stretch in which the Hurricanes have been outscored 56-23 during a slump that has lasted for nearly one-third of the shortened 48-game season. The stat sheet gives plenty of reason for their struggles. Their power-play unit, a season-long problem, ranks 26th in the league while their penalty kill is 28th. They're throwing plenty of pucks at the net - the let-it-rip Hurricanes rank second in the NHL with an average of 32 shots - but are only averaging 2.6 goals while giving up 3.2 per game, third-worst in the league. "I think every night for the last four to five games, we've come ready to compete and really, we're just coming out on the wrong end," forward Riley Nash said. "It's tough to watch because all these guys compete so hard and the leadership's there. It's just really tough." Washington has won three of four meetings this season, with Ovechkin registering three goals and three assists.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
One Gotta Go: NFL Legends (and Jose Canseco!) Have No Love For Captain America
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Lochte to be summoned to appear in Rio, charged with making false report

Carlos Ruiz traded to Dodgers

Ezekiel Elliott reportedly arrived at training camp overweight

Olympian auctions off medal to help young cancer patient

Report: Dodgers have turned down lowball offers for Puig

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jason Pierre-Paul’s lawsuit against Adam Schefter, ESPN will proceed

The Rock, Vin Diesel to settle 'rivalry' at WrestleMania 33?

Report: Browns trade former No. 6 overall pick Mingo to Pats

Harden organizing players-only minicamp with Rockets

Raiders file trademark applications for ‘Las Vegas Raiders’

U.S. Soccer hands Solo six month suspension for Olympic comments

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for fast food

What you need to know about the Champions League draw

Can the San Francisco Giants bust their teamwide slump?

A look at 2016 college football conference changes

The 20 best boxing movies ever

Will Perriman help Ravens find elusive WR success?

Jay Bouwmeester’s selection to Team Canada’s World Cup roster is a head-scratcher

Five MLB players with a lot to lose down the stretch

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for our favorite football movies

Bruce Arians on sideline video use: 'It helps bad coaches'

Hard not to be cynical about LeBron's 'Cleveland Hustles'

Familiar faces that won't be seen in the NFL this year

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 20 best boxing movies of all time

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for fast food

What you need to know about the Champions League draw

Can the San Francisco Giants bust their teamwide slump?

A look at 2016 college football conference changes

Can Perriman's return help Ravens find oft-elusive WR success?

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for our favorite football movies

Hard not to be cynical about LeBron James' 'Cleveland Hustles'

Ranking the uniforms of the NFL from worst to best

Familiar faces that won't be seen in the NFL this year

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker