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At the Rink: Hurricanes at Capitals

by Katie Brown

ARLINGTON, Va. -- As the Washington Capitals prepare to play the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday at Verizon Center (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, CSN-DC), Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is on the cusp of another 50-goal season.

Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 49th goal Sunday in Washington's 5-2 win against the New York Rangers and could reach 50 goals for the sixth time in his career against Carolina. Six other NHL players have reached six 50-goal seasons: Mike Bossy (9), Wayne Gretzky (9), Marcel Dionne (6), Guy Lafleur (6) and Mario Lemieux (6).

Ovechkin said he's only doing his job, scoring goals.

"My teammates and my linemates give me lots of opportunities to shoot the puck and I just do my job," Ovechkin said.

Forward Nicklas Backstrom knows Ovechkin well. Backstrom has played with Ovechkin more than anyone else during their respective careers.

"He has a tremendous shot," Backstrom said. "I don't think anyone has that kind of shot in the League, and so that helps a lot. He's a powerful player and brings a lot of energy to the team. When he gets the puck, he's got that style that he wants to score and take it to the net."

Defenseman Mike Green said Ovechkin's success provides a boost to Capitals. Ovechkin's individual success often contributes to team success. That wasn't true last season, but this season, with Washington on the verge of securing a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, that milestone is an even bigger achievement.

"He definitely has a knack for scoring goals," Green said. "He's done it time and time again, scoring 50. We support him fully and we want to make sure that he gets his 50th, because it is a big accomplishment for a season. It gets us riled up for him."

Since entering the League in the 2005-2006 season, Ovechkin has scored more goals than any player since 2001-2002 (471).

"He cares about the team," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "He's in a good place in his life where he wants to win. He understands the team process, he's continuing to learn and respect the game."

To Trotz, Ovechkin isn't only a future Hall of Fame player. He's one that has matured in many ways on and off the ice.

"As he's getting older, I think he appreciates the mortality end of being an NHL player and what he wants to accomplish in his career. He's an honest guy. He's just straightforward and tells you what he thinks and when you ask him to do something, he'll do it."

Hurricanes forward Riley Nash will miss his second game with a concussion, coach Bill Peters said Tuesday. Nash was injured Sunday after he was hit by a puck in warm-ups before the game against the Boston Bruins.

Here are the projected lineups:

HURRICANES

Jordan Staal - Eric StaalElias Lindholm

Victor RaskJeff SkinnerChris Terry

Nathan GerbeBrad MaloneAlexander Semin

Jay McClementAndrej NestrasilPatrick Dwyer

Ron HainseyJustin Faulk

Danny BiegaRyan Murphy

Brett BellemoreJohn-Michael Liles

Cam Ward

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Michal Jordan

Injured: Riley Nash (concussion), Jack Hillen (concussion), Rasmus Rissanen (MCL injury)

CAPITALS

Alex OvechkinEvgeny KuznetsovJoel Ward

Marcus JohanssonNicklas BackstromTroy Brouwer

Jason ChimeraEric FehrBrooks Laich

Curtis GlencrossMichael LattaTom Wilson

Brooks OrpikJohn Carlson

Karl AlznerMatt Niskanen

Mike GreenTim Gleason

Braden Holtby

Justin Peters

Scratched: None

Injured: Jay Beagle (upper body), John Erskine (neck surgery)

Status report: Beagle and Erskine skated after the rest of the Capitals this morning. Beagle is expected to travel on Washington's upcoming road trip. … Hillen has missed six games and did not travel with the Hurricanes to Washington

Who's hot: Johansson scored an NHL career-high 18th goal against the Rangers on Sunday… Niskanen has four assists in his past four games… Terry has two points in his past two games... Eric Staal has six points (two goals, four assists) in his past five games.

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