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At the Rink: Capitals at Hurricanes

by Kurt Dusterberg

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Washington Capitals will try to stop a two-game losing streak when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.

With a 15-8-3 mark since the start of 2015, Washington has done its part to stay in position for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the tightly-bunched Metropolitan Division, but that's all the more reason to halt the current skid.

"We're in position still, but losing two in a row is something we've got to squash right now," defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "Tonight's a big game for us, jockeying for playoff position. That's important, but what's even more important is how we play on a consistent basis."

Capitals coach Barry Trotz shuffled his power-play units at the morning skate, with Jason Chimera and John Carlson joining the first unit while Mike Green and Marcus Johansson move to the second unit.

"I think people get comfortable and there becomes a lack of detail," Washington coach Barry Trotz said. "So we're just going to move people around so it sort of catches their attention."

The Hurricanes locker room had a different look after the Wednesday trades of defenseman Andrej Sekera and forward Jiri Tlusty to the Los Angeles Kings and Winnipeg Jets, respectively. While the Carolina roster may undergo more changes before the NHL Trade Deadline at 3 p.m. ET on March 2, one player will mark a career milestone against the Capitals. John-Michael Liles will play in his 700th NHL game.

"It's an honor," Liles said. "To have played one game in this League would have been a pretty amazing thing if you would have told me at 10 or 12 years old, let alone 700."

Liles, who grew up in Zionsville, Ind., noted that he is neither the biggest nor the most physical defenseman in the League, and that time takes a toll on everyone. At 34, every day in the NHL remains a special day to him.

"For sure it does. I'm closer to the end than the beginning," he said. "My wife and I have talked about it. You try and do everything you can with diet and training to try and give yourself a little more time. In the grand scheme of things it's very short, so your try to enjoy it every game."

Here are the projected lineups:


Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Marcus Johansson

Jason Chimera - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Troy Brouwer

Brooks Laich - Eric Fehr - Joel Ward

Andre Burakovsky - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Brooks Orpik - John Carlson

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Jack Hillen - Mike Green

Braden Holtby

Justin Peters

Scratched: Aaron Volpatti, Michael Latta, Cameron Schilling

Injured: Dmitry Orlov (wrist), John Erskine (neck surgery)


Eric Staal - Jordan Staal - Alexander Semin

Jeff Skinner - Riley Nash - Elias Lindholm

Nathan Gerbe - Victor Rask - Andrej Nestrasil

Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Patrick Dwyer

Justin Faulk - Ron Hainsey

John-Michael Liles - Brett Bellemore

Tim Gleason - Michal Jordan

Anton Khudobin

Cam Ward

Scratched: Chris Terry

Injured: Ryan Murphy (lower body)

Status report: Ward gets a game off after playing in his 500th NHL game Tuesday, a 4-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers. Carolina coach Bill Peters said he wants Ward to be able to enjoy a pre-game video ceremony commemorating the accomplishment.

Who's hot: Ovechkin has 23 goals in his past 27 games. … Faulk has one goal and eight assists in his past eight games. … Skinner has five goals in his past seven games.

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