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At the Rink: Hurricanes at Capitals

by Damian Cristodero / NHL.com

WASHINGTON -- When discussing the hot streak being enjoyed by Carolina Hurricanes right wing Elias Lindholm, the usual explanations were in vogue.

The second-year player is asserting himself physically inside the perimeter and hunting down pucks, coach Bill Peters said.

"And over the last couple of weeks he's been shooting the puck a lot more and just demanding it," linemate Riley Nash said. "When he goes into the corners he's not expecting to just set up a 1-on-1 battle. He's expecting to win it."

But the "Swedish Beast," as Lindholm is known, had a different take on a four-game stretch in which he has four goals, including three game-winners.

"I'm wearing the same socks," Lindholm said prior to the game Saturday against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center, laughing at his own superstition.

Have they at least been washed?

"No," he said.

Hey, whatever it takes.

Lindholm's outburst has coincided with Carolina's four-game winning streak that helped wipe away the sour taste of an 0-6-2 start in which they were learning a new system -- causing turnovers that spark a rapid transition was how Nash explained it -- while also fine-tuning the roster.

But there also was this:

"There's more guys doing it right," said Peters, in his first season as an NHL coach. "In the beginning, out of the 18 skaters we had eight or nine or 10 guys doing it right. Now we're getting up into the 15, 16 range. Eventually we want to get all 18 guys doing it right."

Lindholm, 19, the No. 5 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, has been on board from the start. Even through his first eight games, in which he had one point, an assist, Lindholm continued to work, Peters said.

"Rather than being frustrated and letting it get to him and changing his game, he stayed with it and continued to work hard," Peters said. "Now pucks are going in for him."

Lindholm said, "I'm working a little bit smarter. I'm reading better when I'm supposed to join, when I'm supposed to take the puck, when I'm supposed to take the body."

And when he's supposed to shoot, as Lindholm opted to keep the puck and zipped in a short-side forehand at the end of a 2-on-1 to give Carolina a 3-2 overtime win Friday against the Blue Jackets.

Of course that meant Lindholm's lucky socks would ferment another day. When will they be washed?

"When we lose," he said.

The Capitals, who came back for a 3-2 win at the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, didn't skate Saturday.

Here are the projected lineups:

HURRICANES

Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Alexander Semin

Nathan Gerbe - Riley Nash - Elias Lindholm

Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Zach Boychuk

Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Patrick Dwyer

Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk

John-Michael Liles - Jay Harrison

Ron Hainsey - Brett Bellemore

Anton Khudobin

Cam Ward

Scratched: Chris Terry

Injured: Tim Gleason (upper body), Jordan Staal (leg)

CAPITALS

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson

Jason Chimera - Brooks Laich - Joel Ward

Marcus Johansson - Andre Burakovsky - Troy Brouwer

Liam O'Brien - Michael Latta - Jay Beagle

Brooks Orpik - John Carlson

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Nate Schmidt - Mike Green

Justin Peters

Braden Holtby

Scratched: Eric Fehr, Jack Hillen, Evgeny Kuznetsov

Injured: John Erskine (undisclosed), Dmitry Orlov (wrist), Aaron Volpatti (neck)

Status report: Laich returned Friday after missing seven games with a shoulder injury. The Capitals are 4-0-2 with him in the lineup, 1-5-1 without him. … Ward gets Saturday off after backstopping Carolina's four-game winning streak with a 1.48 goals-against average and .943 save percentage.

Who's hot: The Capitals power play, second in the NHL at 28.6 percent, has scored in 10 of 13 games. ... Johansson has three goals and three assists in a four-game point streak. ... Ward has a goal in three straight games. … Eric Staal has a goal and three assists in five games since returning from injury. ... Carolina has not been outshot in six straight games. ... Rask won seven of nine faceoffs Friday against Columbus and has won 53 percent for the season.

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