The Carolina Hurricanes
begin a season-long five-game road trip tonight as they visit the Washington Capitals
in a Southeast Division matchup at Verizon Center.
The Hurricanes are 10 points behind eighth place Winnipeg in the Eastern Conference and will play five road games in the next eight days against the Capitals, Sabres, Lightning, Panthers and Rangers.
"It's definitely going to be make or break," Hurricanes forward Anthony Stewart
said of the trip. "It's going to be a dogfight and we can't get too far ahead of ourselves looking at the standings. We just have to win one game, and it's at that point in the season where one point or an overtime loss isn't acceptable. We have to start getting two points, and hopefully it starts tonight."
The Hurricanes have made a habit of earning just one standings point, dropping three of their last five games overall after regulation.
The more disturbing trend for Kirk Muller
's team is that the Hurricanes held a third period lead in all three games -- a pair of shootout losses to Anaheim (Feb. 23) and Florida (Feb. 25) and an overtime loss to Tampa Bay last Saturday.
"On our home stretch we had a couple of tough points that we lost in different ways," Muller said, "but our games have been good, we've been strong and aggressive, but we have to play that same way going on the road."
Carolina has won an NHL-low seven games on the road this season (7-14-8). Cam Ward
is expected to start tonight, but with a pair of back-to-back games scheduled on the road trip, backup Brian Boucher
is likely to earn his first start since Dec. 3 sometime in the next few days. Boucher was activated over the weekend after missing three months with a lower-body injury.
Below are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Capitals and Hurricanes:
- Brooks Laich
- Marcus Johansson
- Mathieu Perreault
- Alexander Semin
- Jay Beagle
- Troy Brouwer
- Jeff Halpern
- Joel Ward
- John Carlson
- Mike Green
- Dennis Wideman
- Eric Staal
- Anthony Stewart
- Jussi Jokinen
- Chad LaRose
- Brandon Sutter
- Patrick Dwyer
- Tim Brent
- Jerome Samson
- Bryan Allen
- Justin Faulk
- Jamie McBain