GAME: Carolina Hurricanes (32-10-4) at Washington Capitals (16-24-5).
TIME: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
The Carolina Hurricanes try for the second time this season to establish the longest winning streak in franchise history when they visit a Washington Capitals team looking to earn four consecutive victories for the first time in over three years.
The Hurricanes beat the New York Islanders 4-3 on Thursday night for their ninth straight win, tying the team mark set from Oct. 22-Nov. 11. They lost in their bid to win 10 in a row with a 9-0 defeat to Atlanta on Nov. 12, their worst loss since moving to Carolina for the 1997-98 season.
"The nine-game winning streak is tremendous," said backup goaltender Cam Ward, who made 36 saves against New York. "But we're concerned about taking it day-by-day, and just trying to keep winning hockey games."
The Hurricanes were without second leading scorer Cory Stillman (torso) and only had four shots in the first period Thursday, but rookie Andrew Ladd and Matt Cullen were able to score goals on two of them.
"Sometimes you're not at your best, but all that matters is two points," said Kevyn Adams, who scored his eighth goal of the season in the second period. "This was a perfect example."
Eric Staal scored in the third period, and has a five-game point streak with four goals and five assists over that span.
Ward won his third straight start spelling starter Martin Gerber, who's won six in a row with a 2.45 goals-against average and one shutout during the winning streak. Gerber is 2-0-0 with a 1.04 GAA in his career against the Capitals.
The Hurricanes are 2-0 against the Capitals this season, outscoring them 11-2, but Washington comes into this contest playing its best hockey of the season.
The Capitals became the last NHL team to have a three-game winning streak since the start of the 2003-04 season with a 5-4 shootout victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.
Washington hasn't won four straight since Dec. 19-27, 2002.
"Everyone knows we're a young team. Three wins in a row right now is huge for our confidence," said Matt Pettinger, who scored in the fourth round of the shootout to give the Capitals the win Thursday.
Alexander Ovechkin scored his 33rd goal of the season to set the Capitals rookie record, breaking the mark set by Bobby Carpenter in 1981-82. He has nine goals and five assists during a seven-game point streak.
"He always makes the right shot, the right move," Blues right wing Mike Sillinger said. "He's a talented young player."
Ovechkin's eight-game point streak to start the season was snapped in Washington's last game against Carolina, a 4-0 loss on Oct. 22.
STANDINGS: Hurricanes - 68 points, 1st place, Southeast Division. Capitals - 37 points, 5th place, 31 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Hurricanes - Staal, 30 goals and 61 points; Stillman, 34 assists; Mike Commodore, 84 PIM. Capitals - Ovechkin, 33 goals, 27 assists and 60 points; Brendan Witt, 115 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 19): Hurricanes - Power play: 19.5 percent (59 for 303), 8th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.8 percent (206 for 255), 20th. Capitals - Power play: 13.4 percent (37 for 275), 29th. Penalty killing: 78.3 percent (249 for 318), 30th.
GOALTENDERS: Hurricanes - Gerber (23-7-2, 3 SO, 2.72 GAA); Ward (9-3-2, 3.62). Capitals - Olaf Kolzig (12-18-5, 3.41); Brent Johnson (4-5-0, 4.20).
SEASON SERIES: Hurricanes, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: Oct. 22; Hurricanes, 4-0. At Washington, Stillman scored the first of three Carolina power-play goals, and the Hurricanes fired 41 shots at Kolzig in cruising to the victory.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Hurricanes - 11-6-3 on the road; Capitals - 10-11-4 at home.