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At the Rink blog

Capitals, Hurricanes face tough decisions in net

Friday, 12.20.2013 / 1:50 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg - NHL.com Correspondent / 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes each had to make a tough goaltending decision ahead of their game Friday night.

The Capitals have three healthy goaltenders, Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth and Philipp Grubauer, leaving coach Adam Oates to make a judgment call. Grubauer, who played in four straight prior to Washington's loss Tuesday night to the Philadelphia Flyers, will get the start in net against Carolina.

"Grubauer has been good," Oates said. "We've got three goalies, so we have to make some decisions. We've played Carolina twice and didn't have the best results, so we will change it up a little bit and put a fresh guy in there."

Carolina coach Kirk Muller also had to sort out his goaltending picture. Justin Peters earned a 4-1 win when the teams met Dec. 3 in Washington, and he has two shutouts and a 1.67 goals-against average in seven games against the Capitals. But after consecutive starts by Peters, Muller will go back to Cam Ward against Washington.

"Just going on a gut feeling," Muller said. "Cam had a good five days to really focus on his game, and he's a leader of this group. Tonight's a big game where you look to your veteran guys to have big games. We want to show we have confidence in him and give him the opportunity to start."

The Hurricanes lost to Edmonton 5-4 in overtime in Ward's last start. Since his November return from a knee injury, he has allowed at least three goals in seven of his eight starts.

Here are the projected lineups:

CAPITALS

Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin

Eric Fehr - Mikhail Grabovski - Troy Brouwer

Jason Chimera - Martin Erat - Joel Ward

Aaron Volpatti - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner - John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov - Mike Green

John Erskine - Steve Oleksy

Philipp Grubauer

Braden Holtby

Injured: Jack Hillen (tibia), Brooks Laich (groin), Michael Latta (lower body).

Scratched: Alexander Urbom, Casey Wellman, Michal Neuvirth

HURRICANES

Jeff Skinner - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu

Nathan Gerbe - Jordan Staal - Alexander Semin

Jiri Tlusty - Riley Nash - Patrick Dwyer

Drayson Bowman - Manny Malhotra - Radek Dvorak

Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk

Ron Hainsey - Brett Bellemore

Jay Harrison - Tim Gleason

Cam Ward

Justin Peters

Injured: Anton Khudobin (lower body), Elias Lindholm (upper body)

Scratched: Mike Komisarek, Ryan Murphy, Kevin Westgarth

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery