The Washington Capitals have headed south to one again face-off against those Bunch of Jerks, AKA the Carolina Hurricanes, Thursday night at PNC Arena. After defeating the Hurricanes 4-1 on Tuesday at Capital One Arena, the Capitals are looking to keep the momentum and sustain the lead in the Metro Division. With only five regulation games remaining for the Capitals before the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin on April 10,
Washington is 45-24-8 with 98 points.
The Capitals ended their four-game homestand on Tuesday on a good note with a win against the Canes. They now start a three-game road trip with Raleigh, North Carolina being their first stop. With a road record of 22-14-2, the Capitals are 3-0-0 against the Hurricanes this season. In their last ten games, Washington is 6-3-1.
Captain Alex Ovechkin scored his 49th goal of this season on Tuesday; he is tied for 13th place with Brendan Shanahan on the NHL’s All-Time Goal Scoring list. He also picked up an assist during that game, and leads the Capitals in points (86) and in goals (49). Ovechkin will be playing his 1,080th career game Thursday night as his team clashes with the Canes to wrap up their season series.
Center Evgeny Kuznetsov had three assists in the last game, and defenseman John Carlson collected a goal and an assist. Now with 54 assists, Carlson leads the team and has a new season best, which was at 53 from the 2017-18 season.
Sitting at tenth place on the power play, the Capitals have a 20.9% efficiency. Washington has a 79% effective penalty kill, ultimately putting them twenty-fourth in the league. Ovechkin continues to lead the Capitals with seventeen power play goals. His last PPG against Carolina was back on December 14 of this season at PNC Arena. Right wing Tom Wilson leads the team with 119 penalty minutes.
With a save percentage of .910, goaltender Braden Holtby is currently at 29-19-5. He is 2-1-0 in his last three games and has allowed four goals. Holtby made 87 saves in those three games. Against the Hurricanes, he is 15-6-0, a .937 save percentage, and has 1.98 goals against average.
Capitals’ goaltender Pheonix Copley is 5-0-0 in his five recent games. If Copley starts on Thursday in Carolina, this will be his first game against the Canes this season. He has not started since March 19 against the New Jersey Devils, a 4-1 victory at Prudential Center in Newark. He has a save percentage of .906, a record of 16-5-3, and 2.88 goals against average.
Holding onto the first Wild Card spot in the east, the Carolina Hurricanes have 91 points and are 42-27-7. They start a quick two-game homestand on Thursday when they host the Capitals. During Tuesday’s game, defenseman Dougie Hamilton had the lone goal for Carolina, his 15th goal this season. The Hurricanes’ home record is 22-12-4 and they are 6-4-0 in the last ten games.
Center Sebastian Aho leads Carolina with 30 goals and 80 points. He has not scored since March 9th in a 5-3 win in Nashville against the Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Aho has only three assists between then and now and is one point shy of 150 career points. Left wing Teuvo Teravainen has 51 assists for the Hurricanes.
The Canes have a 16.4% effective power play placing them twenty-fourth in the NHL. In sixth place on the penalty kill, Carolina has an efficiency of 81.8%. Captain Justin Williams has nine power play goals for the Hurricanes, with Teravainen not far behind with seven. Right wing Andrei Svechnikov and left wing Micheal Ferland both lead the team with 58 penalty minutes.
Goaltender Petr Mrazek is 3-2-0 in his last five games. His save percentage stands at .910 and he has a 2.47 goals against average in addition to four shutouts. Mrazek made a total of 24 saves during Tuesday’s game in Washington, getting his season numbers to 20-14-3. He has only started against the Capitals once this season, which was back on December 27 in a 3-1 loss. Curtis McElhinney’s record this season is 19-9-2. The Ontario native has 2.53 goals against average, .915 save percentage, and two shutouts.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM TUESDAY NIGHT
- Captain Alex Ovechkin is one goal away from 50 goals this season.
- Center Nicklas Backstrom is looking to hit the 20 goal plateau as he is only one away from making that happen.
- Center Evgeny Kuznetsov is two assists away from 50 in this season.
- Right wing T.J. Oshie needs one more point to reach 50 for 2018-19 season.
By Della Young