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Hurricanes, Capitals try to close gap on division lead

by Brian Hunter /

CAPITALS (16-17-2) at HURRICANES (16-16-2)


Last 10: Washington 6-3-1; Carolina 2-7-1

Season series: Fourth of five meetings between these Southeast Division rivals. Washington has taken two of three, including the previous game played in Carolina. The Hurricanes have started three different goalies against the Capitals, with Justin Peters recording a 26-save shutout in his outing on March 12.

Big story: With the possibility seeming more realistic each day that it will take winning the Southeast for one of these teams to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Capitals and Hurricanes each begin play Tuesday four points behind the Jets for first place in the division. Carolina holds three games in hand on Winnipeg, and Washington two.

Team Scope:

Capitals: There are still 13 games remaining to be played for Washington to overcome its rough start, but the Capitals didn't do themselves any favors Sunday night in a disheartening loss to the Flyers. They led 4-2 in the third period after power-play goals 26 seconds apart by Marcus Johansson and Alex Ovechkin, but yielded a Claude Giroux power-play goal with 6:12 left, the tying score to Kimmo Timonen with 9.5 seconds remaining and the winner by Ruslan Fedotenko 1:34 into overtime to suffer a 5-4 defeat.

Hurricanes: Veteran goalie Dan Ellis was activated from injured reserve Monday and would seem likely to get the start despite Peters' unblemished performance in his prior outing against Washington. Things haven't gone as well for Peters since he had to come on in the final minute of a March 21 game against New Jersey when Ellis suffered a laceration to his leg. He's lost three of four starts, including Monday's 4-1 defeat in Montreal, in which Jordan Staal opened the scoring but not much went right for Carolina after that. The Hurricanes have now lost eight of nine.

Who's hot: Ovechkin has eight goals and four assists during an eight-game points streak for the Capitals. Nicklas Backstrom has three goals and four assists in the past six games. Mike Green has goals in consecutive games. Troy Brouwer has a goal and three assists during a three-game points streak.

Injury report: Washington goalie Michal Neuvirth (head) is day-to-day. Defenseman John Erskine (upper body) and Tom Poti (back) and forward Eric Fehr (upper body) are on injured reserve. … Carolina forward Tuomo Ruutu was out of the lineup Monday with a groin injury. Defensemen Bobby Sanguinetti (upper body) and Justin Faulk (knee) are on injured reserve, but nearing their returns. Goalie Cam Ward (knee) remains out.

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