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Capitals-Hurricanes Preview @NHL

Struggles at home and on the power play were two reasons Peter Laviolette lost his job as coach of the Carolina Hurricanes.

They're also two reasons why replacement Paul Maurice is still looking for his first win with the club.

After his new team again struggled with the man advantage in its fifth straight home loss, Maurice hopes the Hurricanes can snap the skid when they host the Washington Capitals on Sunday.

Laviolette was fired on Wednesday after Carolina (12-12-3) lost four of its last five games in November, including three in a row at the RBC Center. The Hurricanes were 0-for-23 on the power play during that cold stretch.

Maurice, who also coached the team for parts of nine seasons before being fired in 2003, hasn't had much more success in his first two games back at the helm. Carolina is just 2-for-10 with the man advantage in back-to-back home defeats.

The Hurricanes failed to score on four power-play chances in the first period in a 2-1 overtime loss to Philadelphia on Saturday.

"If we could have scored another one, it could have been the difference," left wing Ray Whitney told the Hurricanes' official Web site. "We had plenty of opportunities, but confidence is probably still an issue a little bit with it. Getting one two games in a row might help that."

Maurice has reason to believe the team is on its way toward breaking out of its funk, saying he saw marginal improvement.

"Our neutral zone was better than it was last game, and we're making small strides on the power play, finding different people and finding different units," he said.

The absence of starting goaltender Cam Ward hasn't helped Maurice. Ward missed his second consecutive game on Saturday because of a groin injury, and Maurice said the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner wouldn't return until he was at full strength.

Michael Leighton made 29 saves in his second consecutive start on Saturday before giving up Jeff Carter's goal 3:34 into overtime.

He'll hope to have better luck against Washington (15-9-3), which beat the Maple Leafs 2-1 on Saturday for its second consecutive victory. Milan Jurcina's third-period goal stood up as the winner.

"It's a huge win," said Washington left wing Alex Ovechkin. "I think today was kind of a boring game, not lots of chances for goals, but the most important thing is we took two points."

Ovechkin, last season's Hart Trophy winner with a league-high 112 points, was held scoreless for just the second time in his last 14 games. He was robbed of a goal by Toronto goalie Vesa Toskala late in the second period and had a shot go off the post in the third.

"It's scary," Toskala said of facing Ovechkin. "He can make goalies look bad."

Ovechkin has done plenty to earn that reputation among Carolina's goalies this season, scoring one goal with five assists to help the Capitals win the teams' first two meetings.

Washington forward Alexander Semin also has been successful against Carolina this season, scoring four goals with three assists.

Leighton gave up all five goals in a 5-1 home loss in his only career start against the Capitals on Nov. 12, while Washington's Jose Theodore is 12-9-0 with three ties, four shutouts and a 2.58 goals-against average in 26 career games against the Hurricanes.

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