The Hurricanes (24-20-7) are 5-5-0 in their last 10 games, but have won their last three straight, with wins over the Flyers, Oilers and a thrilling overtime victory over the surging New York Islanders.
The National Hockey League announced on Monday that Carolina Hurricanes rookie forward Sebastian Aho has been selected as the league’s first star of the week. Aho, 19, scored four goals, earned an assist (5 points) and recorded a plus-3 plus/minus rating in Carolina’s three wins last week. Aho notched his first career hat trick and had an assist in Tuesday’s 5-1 win against Philadelphia.
Cam Ward continues to get a majority of the starts in goal for the Canes. Ward is 21-16-0-6 in 44 starts so far this season. Ward has a 2.57 goals against average (GAA), with a .907 save percentage (SV%) in the 44 starts. However, it looks like Eddie Lack will get the start against the Capitals.
Carolina’s power play is 22nd in the league with a 17.1% conversion rate. The Hurricanes penalty kill continues to be the best in the league, with an 87.7% success rate, for a combined special teams index (STI) of 104.8. The current league mean STI is 101.2
Carolina is 14th in the league in shot attempts, with an average of 30.0 shots per game. The Hurricanes are giving up the 5th most shots in the league, with an average of 27.7 shots per game.
The Capitals continue to score at an extremely high rate. Washington potted five goals on just 20 shots on Sunday against the Kings, for a gaudy 25% shooting percentage. According to Elias Sports, the Caps stretch of eight straight home games with 5+ goals is the longest in team history, and the longest in the league since ’91-92 (PIT). In addition, the Capitals lead the league in 5-on-5 shooting percentage, at 10.3%.
As noted, the Capitals are coming off a resounding 5-0 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Super Bowl Sunday. Philipp Grubauer pitched his 3rd shutout of the season, stopping all 38 shots in the game. The Caps lead the league in shutouts (9). Braden Holtby has six of the nine shutouts. Ottawa and L.A. are tied for 2nd in the league with 7 shutouts. The Capitals goalie tandem leads the league in 5-on-5 save percentage, at .943%.
The Capitals power play continues to improve. The Caps power play is currently ranked 13th in the league with a 20.6% conversion rate.
After a bit of a wobble, the penalty kill had a good weekend. The Capitals took a combined seven penalties over the weekend, but allowed zero power play goals to the opposition.
The Caps are currently ranked 4th in the league in penalty kill, with an 84.5 success rate, for a combined special team index of 105.1. The league’s mean average remains at 101.2.
The Capitals continue to drop down in league stats for shot attempts per game, averaging 29.5 shots per game, good enough for 19th in the league. On the flip side, the Caps are giving up the seventh fewest shots per game in the league, with an average of 28.4 shots per game.
This is the 4th and final meeting between Carolina and the Caps. The Capitals crushed the ‘Canes 6-1 in the last meeting back on January 23rd. On December 16th in Raleigh, the Capitals claimed a 4-3 victory via the shootout. The ‘Canes routed the Caps in the series opener, 5-1, back on November 12th.
What to watch for: The Capitals power play and how it will do against Carolina’s top-ranked penalty kill.
- Nicklas Backstrom is two goals shy of passing Dale Hunter and Michal Pivonka (181) for 10th place on the Capitals goals list.
- Nicklas Backstrom is five points shy of 700 NHL/Capitals points.
- Justin Williams is three assists shy of 400 NHL assists.
- Passed Dick Irvin (692) for sixth place on the all-time NHL coaching wins list, February 4th at Montreal.
By Jon Sorensen