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Gameday: Hurricanes at Capitals

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

WASHINGTON - Any game preview not written by me is fake news.

This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight's Metropolitan Division showdown between the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals in one handy location. Make this a regular stop throughout the day, as we update it with notes, photos and more as puck drop draws near.

The Hurricanes will take the early 10:30 a.m. ice at Verizon Center, and we'll be rinkside as always to provide you with the latest information.

Last updated: 4:15 p.m.


BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA TOOLS TO VICTORY
4:15 p.m.

Mike Maniscalco details tonight's Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina three tools to victory.

After the Super Bowl, the Hurricanes can use a few things that the New England Patriots did to win against a high-powered offense. 

1. Be Who You Are

The Canes want to play fast, but that doesn't mean run and gun, pond hockey. Stay structured, especially on defense, and frustrate the Caps by not giving them anything easy.

2. Get Everyone Involved

Yes, the top players have to score, but in order to win on the road, the scoring from names other than Aho, Skinner and Staal has to be there.

3. Play 60 Minutes

Against a team like Washington there are no easy shifts. Play the last minutes like the first, regardless of the scoreboard.


LINEUP NOTES AND PETERS QUOTES
12:55 p.m.

Eddie Lack will likely make the start in net tonight for the Carolina Hurricanes, but head coach Bill Peters said a final decision was still pending. Should Lack get the nod, it would be his first appearance in the crease for the Canes since early November. He recently completed a two-game conditioning stint in Charlotte, stopping 59 of 62 shots.

"Two good starts down there, and he's put in good work here recently," Peters said. "He's had lots of time to get himself ready. I think he's ready."

Elsewhere, the lineup will likely remain the same as seen on Saturday night in Brooklyn. There are a few players dinged up, though, so Peters said the team will warm up extra players just to be certain.

"We're going to warm up Ratts and Tenny. We'll try to go with the same lineup we had in New York, and if everyone is clear, that's what we'll do," he said. "If not, we'll put one of those guys in."

Here's more from the head coach this morning.

On the swaps in the defensive pairs: "If we decide to do that, it can be an easy flip."

On match-ups tonight against a deep Caps team: "I'm going to put my guys out. They've got to look across and be better than the guy across from them. If you have enough guys going you have a chance to do that, but if you have passengers you have no chance. It will be a good challenge for all four lines and also on the back-end. There's good players coming at you every shift."

On the competitive level in the NHL right now: "Huge intensity around the league right now. Typically, other than when you play Washington, they are low-scoring games. Teams are dialed in defensively, competing very hard away from the puck."


CANES LINES: MORNING SKATE
10:40 a.m.

The Hurricanes' forward lines will look familiar to tonight; no changes there from a few nights ago. On defense, it looks as though the Slavin-Pesce pair will be separated. Eddie Lack was first to leave the ice for the Canes, indicating that he's the probable starting goaltender.

Skinner-Ryan-Stempniak
Aho-Staal-Lindholm
McGinn-Rask-Teravainen
Nordstrom-McClement-Stalberg

Slavin-Faulk
Hainsey-Pesce
Hanifin-Dahlbeck

Lack
Ward

We'll have more from the room soon.

Tweet from @MSmithCanes: #Canes morning skate winding down at Verizon Center. pic.twitter.com/8Zgx0800pU


CANES LOOK TO EXTEND WINNING STREAK AS THEY FACE LEAGUE'S BEST
6:00 a.m.

Since returning from the All-Star break, the Carolina Hurricanes have strung together three consecutive wins, and they'll be looking to extend that streak to four when they visit the Washington Capitals for the second time in just over two weeks.

Tonight marks the fourth and final meeting between the two Metropolitan Division opponents. The Hurricanes earned points in the two match-ups in Raleigh - a 5-1 win in November and a 4-3 shootout loss in December - while the Capitals ran away in a 6-1 decision in D.C. on Jan. 23.

"We let that game get away from us a little bit," head coach Bill Peters said after practice on Monday. "We've got to be harder on pucks. We've got to spend time in the offensive zone and make sure we communicate and read off each other better. There was a lot of defensive duplication in that game."

What should be noted is the vastly different mindset the Hurricanes have coming in to tonight's game. Two weeks ago, they were reeling from three straight losses to divisional opponents. Tonight, they're riding a three-game winning streak and coming off a 5-4 overtime win over the New York Islanders in Brooklyn.

"Maybe not the sharpest defensively played game, and it turned into an entertaining one," said Ron Hainsey, who tallied two goals including the overtime game-winner. "It was a lot of hard work, and it wasn't pretty, obviously, but we were able to get it done." 

The Capitals, who rank first in the NHL with 78 points in 53 games, have won nine consecutive home games, a streak dating back to the first of the year. They defeated the Los Angeles Kings 5-0 on Sunday and boast a league-best plus-61 goal differential.

"If you go in thinking you can go up and down the ice with them and exchange chances, you have the wrong mindset," Peters said. "You've got to really get dialed in, play and make them earn their opportunities. They're very opportunistic, and they don't need many shots to be able to score. They've got good finish in their lineup."

Jeff Skinner did not practice with the Hurricanes on Monday, though he did work out on the ice beforehand with assistant coach Rod Brind'Amour.

"There are a couple guys dinged up that are questionable for game time," Peters said. "We'll see."

Cam Ward started back-to-back contests this weekend, earning wins in both games. The Hurricanes also have Eddie Lack healthy and activated off injured reserve after he missed two months with concussions. A decision on a starter had yet to be made on Monday morning.

"We're going to talk about it over lunch, get it figured out and make a decision," Peters said. "I know Cam was good on the back-to-back. He made some big saves at key times. We'll discuss it."

CANESPR NOTES: Hurricanes rookie forward Sebastian Aho was named the NHL's first star of the week on Monday. He posted four goals, including his first career hat trick, and one assist along with a plus-3 rating in the Canes' three wins last week. … Since the 2005-06 season, the Canes are 30-2-5 when they score three or more goals against the Caps.


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