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At the Rink: Capitals at Hurricanes

by Staff

The Washington Capitals will be without one key center Thursday when they face the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena (6 p.m. ET; FS-CR, CSN-DC), and they hope it won't be two.

The Capitals, who will be aiming for their 10th consecutive win, lost third-line center Jay Beagle to an upper-body injury Wednesday in a 5-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres. Coach Barry Trotz said Beagle would need surgery and miss an extended period of time; he was placed on injured reserve Thursday.

First-line center Nicklas Backstrom also left the game with an upper-body injury, but Trotz said he would make the trip to Carolina and was a possibility to be in the lineup.

Hurricanes coach Bill Peters isn't taking anything for granted even if the Capitals aren't at full strength.

"That's a good team. Nine [wins] in a row. No obvious weakness that jumps out at you that you can exploit," Peters told the Hurricanes website after their optional morning skate Thursday. "Real good individual players, and they play a good team game. You've got to be on top of your game if you're going to beat them."

The Capitals didn't hold a morning skate, so it wasn't clear who would take Beagle's place in the lineup or Backstrom's if he doesn't play. Fourth-line forwards Brooks Laich and Andre Burakovsky could be shifted to the middle, and Michael Latta could return to the lineup after missing the game Wednesday with an arm injury sustained in the front end of the home-and-home Monday in Buffalo.

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who made 31 saves in a 2-1 road win against the Hurricanes in his most recent start Dec. 21, could get the nod after Braden Holtby started Wednesday.

Goaltender Eddie Lack will start for the Hurricanes, who had a two-game winning streak snapped with a 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. Lack is 3-0-1 in his past four starts after starting 1-6-1 in his first season in Carolina.

"I think he's settled in. He's worked very hard in his time here," Peters said. "We want him to play big. He's a big man. We don't want him to be deep, but he's got to be at a depth that he's comfortable and he can make saves. He's a young guy as far as NHL experience goes, and he's going to get better and better as we go."

Here are the projected lineups:


Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams

Jason Chimera - Michael Latta - Tom Wilson

Brooks Laich - Zach Sill - Andre Burakovsky

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Dmitry Orlov - Nate Schmidt

Taylor Chorney - Connor Carrick

Philipp Grubauer

Braden Holtby

Injured: Brooks Orpik (lower body), John Carlson (lower body), Michael Latta (upper body), Jay Beagle (upper body)

Scratched: Stanislav Galiev, Aaron Ness


Kris Versteeg - Eric Staal - Elias Lindholm

Joakim Nordstrom - Jordan Staal - Andrej Nestrasil

Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Phillip Di Giuseppe

Chris Terry - Jay McClement - Riley Nash

John-Michael Liles - Justin Faulk

Jaccob Slavin - Ron Hainsey

Brett Pesce - Noah Hanifin

Eddie Lack

Cam Ward

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

Scratched: Michal Jordan, Brad Malone

Status report: The Capitals recalled Ness from Hershey of the American Hockey League on Thursday. Orpik, who hasn't played since Nov. 10, was transferred to long-term injured reserve but is eligible to be activated at any time. … Gerbe skated Thursday and Peters said a mid-January return could be realistic.

Who's hot: Ovechkin scored three goals in the two games against the Sabres. Johansson has three goals and seven points in his past six games. … Eric Staal had his first multigoal game of the season Tuesday against the Devils.

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