After a slow start to the season, Rod Brind'Amour is back to being the catalyst for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Brind'Amour will try to help keep the defending Stanley Cup champions rolling when they visit the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
Carolina's captain extended his point streak to a season-high six games Wednesday, scoring with 6:05 remaining in regulation to give the Hurricanes (10-7-3) a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
The 36-year-old Brind'Amour has goals in three consecutive games, with two game-winners in that span. He's the only Hurricanes players with a point in each win this season.
"Offensively, he's on top of his game. He's in great shape for having to go through as long a year as he did," Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. "He came back in better shape than he did last year, if that's even possible. I think it shows up in his conditioning and the way he plays the game. Night in and night out, all the minutes that are asked of him. It's been terrific."
Brind'Amour failed to register a point in the first four games of the season, but has eight goals and 18 assists in the 16 games since. He's tied for third in the league with 26 points.
The center had 12 goals - four game-winners - and six assists during Carolina's run to the Stanley Cup last season.
Brind'Amour has 12 points in his last 10 games against Washington.
Like Brind'Amour, goaltender Cam Ward also got off to a slow start before returning to form.
Ward, also a key player during the Hurricanes' championship run, made 23 saves against the Rangers to earn his 10th win of the season. The second-year player lost his first three starts, giving up 12 goals, but has lowered his goals-against average to 2.92.
One of those early season losses came against the Caps, 5-2 on Oct. 7 at Washington. Ward, though, made 20 saves to beat the Capitals 5-0 on Nov. 9 at home.
The Capitals (8-5-5) failed to win three in a row for the first time this season when they missed on all three shootout attempts and lost 3-2 to Boston on Wednesday.
"When you get to the shootout, it's a roll of the dice," Capitals defenseman Brian Pothier said.
That's the case for most teams, but not for Washington this season. The Caps are 0-4 in shootouts this season, having failed to convert on all 10 of their attempts.
"Yeah, we'll score. It's just a matter of time," Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said. "I have the utmost confidence in (Alexander) Semin, (Alex) Ovechkin and (Matt) Pettinger. It's unproductive to sit in misery here and think it's never going to go our way."
Despite Wednesday's loss, the Capitals have won four of their last six games.
Dainius Zubrus had three goals in the last two games, giving him 12 to tie him with Ovechkin for the team lead.
Zubrus has 25 points in 40 games against Carolina, his highest total against any club, although he has been held without a point in the two meetings this season.
Ovechkin - Zubrus' linemate - has six goals and six assists in the last eight games. He has 12 points in 10 games against Carolina.