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Old faces in new places as 'Canes visit Caps

by Dan Rosen

HURRICANES (27-31-7) at CAPITALS (44-13-9)

Last 10 -- Carolina 8-2-0; Washington 6-1-3

Season series -- This will be the fourth meeting between the clubs this season and the first of three this month. Washington won the first two games, 3-2 in Carolina on Nov. 30 and 4-3 in overtime in Washington on Dec. 11. The Hurricanes then won 6-3 at Washington on Dec. 28. Until the Caps lost in a shootout to Dallas on Monday, that loss to Carolina marked the last time they lost on home ice.

Big story -- These Southeast Division rivals will get reacquainted with each other over the next 15 days as they play three times to finish out their season series. Despite being sellers at the deadline, Carolina is trying to climb out of the Southeast Division cellar for the first time this season and perhaps even get into the playoff race. Washington looks firmly entrenched as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 13-point lead over Pittsburgh. This will also be the first time Scott Walker and Joe Corvo face their former team since being traded by Carolina last week.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes -- They are 3-1 since the Olympic break and 8-1 over their last nine games. This doesn't look like a team that thinks it's out of the playoff race by any means, even though GM Jim Rutherford last week shipped both Walker and Corvo to the Capitals in separate trades that brought back Brian Pothier, Oskar Osala and a pair of draft picks. Carolina smoked Atlanta 4-0 on Sunday and has also crushed Toronto (5-1) and Ottawa (4-1) since the Olympics. The Hurricanes' lone blemish is a 4-1 loss to Florida. The Canes have outscored their opponents 34-16 over the last nine games.

Capitals -- They're just happy they won't have to see Marty Turco again this season. Turco was brilliant in making a career-high 49 saves to lead Dallas to a 4-3 shootout win at Washington on Monday night. The Caps, who had won 13 straight at home, had twice as many shots as Dallas (52-26), but it wasn't enough. Alex Ovechkin pulled even with Sidney Crosby in the Rocket Richard Trophy race with a pair of goals, giving him 44 for the season. Ovechkin hadn't scored an NHL goal since Feb. 7, but that was only a span of six games due to the Olympic break. This game should be special for both Walker and Corvo. Walker, who was a healthy scratch against Dallas, came to Carolina in 2006 and Corvo was traded there late in the 2007-08 season.

Who's hot -- Caps goalie Jose Theodore, who is likely to start Wednesday, is 12-0-2 in his last 14 appearances with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. He has stopped 53 of 54 shots since the Olympic break. Carolina forward Brandon Sutter has points in six straight games (4-4-8).

Injury report -- Carolina goalie Cam Ward has missed nine straight games with an upper body injury. Washington is without defenseman Milan Jurcina, who is sidelined indefinitely after having sports hernia surgery.

Stat pack -- Ovechkin rang up 10 shots on goal against Dallas to give him 307 for the season. He now has five straight 300-shot seasons and is the only active player with more than four 300-shot seasons. Phil Esposito (seven) and Brett Hull (six) are the only players that have had more than five 300-shot seasons. The stat was first tracked in 1967-68.

Puck drop -- "When he has his energy, he is what he is: the best player in the world," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said in reference to Ovechkin, who got off the schneid with a pair of goals against Dallas after being told by the coach Monday morning that he needed to work harder.

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