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Washington
Capitals
50-24-8
Carolina
Hurricanes
45-30-7

32 SOG
30 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
WSH
CAR
game preview

Capitals-Hurricanes Preview

Saturday, 03.21.2009 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

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Capitals-Hurricanes Preview
Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

The Washington Capitals have experienced continued success on the road thanks in part to Alex Ovechkin's prolific scoring.

The Capitals might need another strong outing from the league's top scorer to keep the hot streak going in Raleigh.

In a matchup of Southeast Division teams battling for playoff position, Ovechkin and the Capitals look for another strong effort away from home Saturday night when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes, winners of seven straight at the RBC Center.

Washington (45-22-6) has recorded a point in 10 of its last 11 road games, going 8-1-2 in that stretch. Ovechkin helped extend the run of road success with his league-leading 50th goal in a 5-2 victory at Tampa Bay on Thursday night.

Ovechkin, who also had two assists, scored 7:43 into the first period to become Washington's first three-time 50-goal scorer.

"It feels pretty good actually," the 23-year-old Russian star said. "Today was a lucky goal, I think. It's done right now. No pressure. Nothing."

Ovechkin might feel less pressure with that milestone out of the way, but the Capitals' work isn't done. Washington's 13-point lead over Carolina (38-28-7) atop the Southeast appears safe, but the Capitals are one point behind New Jersey for second in the Eastern Conference and four behind frontrunning Boston.

Making up ground could be tough against a Hurricanes team that's won seven straight in Raleigh to improve to 21-13-1 there this season. Carolina hasn't had a longer home winning streak since notching nine consecutive victories from Dec. 31, 2005-Jan. 28, 2006, en route to the franchise's lone Stanley Cup.

Carolina is also 8-2-1 over its last 11 home games against Washington, though the teams have split two meetings at the RBC Center in 2008-09.

The Hurricanes' home streak appeared to be in jeopardy Friday night. They blew a 2-0 first-period lead by giving up four straight goals in the second before rallying to beat the New York Islanders 5-4.

Matt Cullen and Chad LaRose scored third-period goals - the second of the game for each player - as Carolina prevailed despite being outworked for much of the game.

"If we learned anything, it was that we can't take a lapse for 10, 15 minutes in a game," said winger Ray Whitney, who had three assists. "If we do that against Washington, it's not 4-2, it's 6-2. This gave us a little bit of humbling. We realized we're only as good as how hard we work."

Friday's victory put the Hurricanes in sixth place in the East, one point ahead of the New York Rangers and two in front of Montreal. Whitney said the postseason chase is reason enough for the Hurricanes to avoid any more problems with their effort.

"We just look at the board over there and realize where we are," he said.

Whitney has been Carolina's key to success against Washington this season. The veteran was held scoreless as the Hurricanes dropped the first two meetings in the series, but he's totaled three goals and four assists to lead them to two wins and a shootout loss in the last three.

Ovechkin has two goals and eight assists in five games against Carolina this season. If he scores Saturday, he might avoid turning to one of his sometimes theatrical celebrations.

Ovechkin reacted to Thursday's goal by putting his stick on the ice and pretending to warm his hands over it. Lightning coach Rick Tocchet was upset about the unsportsmanlike display, and Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said he planned to speak to Ovechkin about it.

2008-2009 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 21 '09WSH 1 at CAR 4J. Pitkanen
Mar 14 '09CAR 4 at WSH 5 - SOA. Semin
Mar 03 '09CAR 5 at WSH 2P. Eaves
Dec 07 '08WSH 1 at CAR 3E. Staal
Nov 12 '08WSH 5 at CAR 1A. Semin
Nov 06 '08CAR 2 at WSH 3A. Semin
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
A. Ovechkin71504494+10681610
N. Backstrom74195776+1246121
A. Semin55294170+257766
M. Green60283664+2360163
B. Laich74182341-42983
V. Kozlov59122537-51220
T. Fleischmann65171532-21874
M. Nylander6482230+03242
S. Fedorov4482028+83412
E. Fehr53111122+82012
D. Steckel6871118+43400
B. Gordon635914-41602
M. Jurcina7231114+36001
S. Morrisonn6431013+26901
T. Poti4731013+62601
J. Schultz5711011+131600
M. Bradley735510+05701
C. Clark32156-33200
K. Alzner30145-1200
T. Sloan26145+41400
D. Brashear63134-612101
J. Erskine45044+25000
S. Lepisto7044-3600
B. Helmer12033-1200
S. Collins15112+11200
A. Giroux12112+41001
C. Bourque7101+0000
K. Aucoin5011+3000
B. Pothier3000+0200
S. Kronwall3000-1000
J. Beagle3000-3200
G. Mink2000+0000
Q. Laing1000+1000
A. Gordon1000+0000
O. Osala1000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
J. Theodore5128-16-413713912.81.902
B. Johnson2112-6-2535792.81.908
S. Varlamov43-0-06981.74.939
M. Neuvirth52-1-0111023.00.892
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
R. Whitney74234467-13071
E. Staal74343165+1150128
T. Ruutu71222749-27163
S. Samsonov73153045-82633
M. Cullen69222143+112042
R. Brind'Amour72132942-253251
E. Cole72181937+06951
J. Corvo74142034-11686
J. Pitkanen6372330+95423
C. LaRose73161228+82703
D. Seidenberg6242226-103520
A. Babchuk64121325+131662
J. Jokinen6371623-72221
S. Walker3641014-43510
P. Eaves675813+82911
R. Bayda655712+22600
T. Gleason6201111+16400
J. Williams323710-9920
N. Wallin562810+14001
B. Sutter50156-11600
F. Kaberle29066-5800
J. Melichar15044-1800
D. Lacouture11202-11001
D. Helminen15112-1000
M. Ryan18022-3200
B. Rodney8022-3200
W. Brookbank27101+04000
P. Dwyer13101-2000
T. Conboy21011+02600
J. Petruzalek2011+1000
B. Carson5000-3400
C. Borer3000+0500
Z. Boychuk2000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
C. Ward6133-22-514817102.51.913
M. Leighton176-6-2464602.94.900