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Caps, Hurricanes set to conclude season series

by Brian Compton
CAPITALS (49-14-10) at HURRICANES (30-34-9)

Last 10: Washington 7-1-2; Carolina 4-4-2.

Season series -- This is the sixth and final meeting between the Southeast Division rivals. Washington has won three of the first five contests, but Carolina won the most recent meeting, a 4-3 overtime decision on March 18 at the RBC Center.

Big story -- The Capitals continue to inch closer to the Presidents' Trophy, as they now have 108 points -- which ties a franchise record that was set last season -- following Wednesday's 4-3 shootout win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Chicago is nine points behind the Caps in the chase for the best record in the League.

Team Scope:

Capitals -- Washington had another epic battle with Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, and once again it was the Caps who got the last word. Jordan Staal erased Washington's 3-2 lead with 3:06 left in regulation, but the Capitals got a goal from Mike Knuble in the fourth round of the shootout to secure the team's third win against Pittsburgh in three tries this season.

"It was mentally a very important win for us," Caps forward Alex Ovechkin said. "We know they have a very good team. They miss (Sergei) Gonchar and (Evgeni) Malkin, but they're still the Stanley Cup champions."

Hurricanes -- Carolina will be looking to avoid its third straight loss on Thursday night. After dropping a 5-3 decision on home ice against Buffalo on Sunday, the Hurricanes came up short on Tuesday in a 3-2 overtime loss at Tampa Bay. Martin St. Louis scored the game-winner for the Lightning.

While it's highly unlikely they'll make the playoffs, the Hurricanes -- ravaged by injuries earlier this season -- are 16-8-1 in their last 25 games.

"We just have to try and do what we've done so well for a long time and put this loss behind us," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said.

Who's hot -- Caps forward Alexander Semin has three goals in his last four games. … Rookie defenseman Jamie McBain has five points in his first four NHL contests with the Hurricanes.

Injury report -- Washington defenseman Milan Jurcina (sports hernia) is expected to miss another month, while forward Boyd Gordon (back) should return shortly. … Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward (back) is out and defenseman Tim Gleason (foot) could be done for the season. Alexandre Picard (upper body) is week-to-week.

Stat pack -- The main reason why Washington has won all three meetings with Pittsburgh this season? Easy. The Caps have outscored the Pens 8-1 in the third period and overtime.

Puck drop -- "I don't know how often you get down 2-0 in a shootout and you come back. It's thinking, 'Oh man, we're done, there's no way.' But, I don't think we ever think that. I think that's the kind of group we have." -- Caps coach Bruce Boudreau
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