Bruce Boudreau's debut as the Washington Capitals interim coach was a success. His first true test will come quickly against a division leader.
Making his home debut, Boudreau looks to lead the NHL's worst team to consecutive wins for the first time since the opening week of the season as the Capitals take on the Southeast-leading Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.
Washington (7-14-1) hasn't won back-to-back games since a three-game run to open the season - a streak that included a 2-0 home victory over Carolina on Oct. 6. Since then, the Capitals had two four-game skids and a five-game slide as part of a 3-14-1 stretch that sealed Glen Hanlon's fate.
On Thursday, Hanlon was fired one night after a 5-1 loss to Atlanta, which axed Bob Hartley following an 0-6-0 start after winning the Southeast last season. Boudreau was promoted from Hershey of the American Hockey League to take over on an interim basis, and the Caps responded as Nicklas Backstrom scored 1:55 into overtime of a 4-3 win over Philadelphia on Friday.
Boudreau said he wasn't really worried or thinking about his emotions before the game.
"I was really thinking about the players and trying to make sure that they were positive about themselves," he said. "They were playing such a good game that there was no way something bad was going to happen in the end."
Alexander Ovechkin assisted on the game-winning goal, giving him five goals and three assists during a season-high eight-game points streak. In his last seven games against Carolina, Ovechkin has six goals and one assist.
The Capitals are 0-7-1 in their last eight games when Ovechkin fails to score a point.
The Hurricanes gained some revenge for the earlier loss to the Capitals by posting a 5-0 win over Washington on Nov. 5 in Raleigh, N.C. Cory Stillman had a natural hat trick in the first period, Eric Staal scored twice and Cam Ward stopped 35 shots for his third career shutout.
Carolina (13-7-3) has been unable to generate any consistency at the Verizon Center, alternating wins and losses in its last six visits, but hope to build off a stunning third-period rally to win its last game.
Ray Whitney, Justin Williams and Glen Wesley scored less than seven minutes apart to lift the Hurricanes to a 4-3 win over Tampa Bay on Friday.
"We felt we were due for a come-from-behind victory," Williams said.
Erik Cole had two assists in his first game back after missing four with a neck injury. One of those assists came on Staal's team-leading 14th goal and the 100th of his career.
Staal has failed to score a goal in his last five visits to Washington and has just three assists over that span.
|Apr 01 '08||CAR 1 at WSH 4||B. Laich|
|Mar 25 '08||WSH 3 at CAR 2 - SO||V. Kozlov|
|Feb 23 '08||WSH 3 at CAR 6||E. Staal|
|Feb 08 '08||CAR 2 at WSH 1||A. Ladd|
|Nov 30 '07||WSH 3 at CAR 4||R. Brind'Amour|
|Nov 24 '07||CAR 2 at WSH 5||M. Nylander|
|Nov 05 '07||WSH 0 at CAR 5||C. Stillman|
|Oct 06 '07||CAR 0 at WSH 2||A. Ovechkin|