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At the Rink: Capitals at Hurricanes

by Kurt Dusterberg

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Goalie Cam Ward will make his third straight start for the Carolina Hurricanes and is tasked with slowing down the streaking Washington Capitals.

The Capitals won their fifth in a row Sunday, defeating the New York Rangers 7-3 at Madison Square Garden. Washington trailed 3-1 after the first period before scoring six unanswered goals. With the win, the Capitals have an eight-point lead over the Rangers in the Metropolitan Division.

Washington is 12-1-1 in its past 14 games with the NHL's second-ranked power play at 26.2 percent. But the Hurricanes are playing well recently too. Ranked 29th on the power play in early December, they have climbed to 18th, scoring 10 times in eight games with the man-advantage. With a 3-1-1 mark in the past five games, the Hurricanes are determined to set the offensive tone against the Capitals.

"We're going to try and have the puck and make them defend," Carolina coach Bill Peters said. "We're not going to defend, defend, defend, chip it in and let them come at us. We're going to try and make them play in their defensive zone and play a puck possession game ourselves. I think it's going to be a high-level game with a lot of pace."

The Hurricanes are coming off a 2-1 win at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. Prior to a 2-0 home loss to the Florida Panthers on Friday, Carolina had scored 23 goals in five games, giving them some momentum heading into the holidays.

"We're happy with the way we're playing the last couple weeks, but [the Capitals] are at the top of the standings for a reason," Hurricanes captain Eric Staal said. "We know we're going to have a real good test [Monday]. Hopefully they're feeling a little too good and we can take advantage of that. Our guys are excited to go into the break on a good note and go after a good team."

Goalie Philipp Grubauer will start for the Capitals. Coach Barry Trotz said the status of forward T.J. Oshie (lower body) will be determined after pregame warmups. Oshie sustained the injury Sunday against the Rangers

Here are the projected lineups:


Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams

Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Brooks Laich - Michael Latta - Andre Burakovsky

Nate Schmidt - John Carlson

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner

Dmitry Orlov - Taylor Chorney

Philipp Grubauer

Braden Holtby

Injured: Brooks Orpik (lower body)

Scratched Stanislav Galiev, Connor Carrick


Kris Versteeg - Eric Staal - Elias Lindholm

Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Phillip Di Giuseppe

Joakim Nordstrom - Jordan Staal - Andrej Nestrasil

Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Chris Terry

John-Michael Liles - Justin Faulk

Jaccob Slavin - Ron Hainsey

Noah Hanifin - Brett Pesce

Cam Ward

Eddie Lack

Injured: James Wisniewski (knee), Nathan Gerbe (lower body)

Scratched: Riley Nash

Status report: Defenseman Michal Jordan was recalled by the Hurricanes on Monday after a four-game conditioning stint with Charlotte of the American Hockey League.

Who's hot: Ovechkin and Oshie each have three goals in the past two games. ... Carlson has a six-game point streak (2-5-7). ... Faulk has four goals and five assists in the past seven games.

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