Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
The Washington Capitals host the Carolina Hurricanes for the fourth and final meeting between the two teams this season. The Hurricanes have taken two of the first three games this season, including a 3-2 overtime victory in the Capitals’ home opener on October 5 in a game in which they trailed 2-0 in the third period. If the season ended on Saturday, the Capitals and Hurricanes would face each other in the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Action from Capital One Arena can be seen on NBC Sports Washington beginning at 7 PM ET.
The Hurricanes begin a two-game intra-division road trip on Monday night after finishing off a 5-2-0 season-long homestand with a 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night. These two games will be their only road games in a span of 14 contests. The Hurricanes are 12-8-2 away from PNC Arena this season but have lost their last two on the road and allowed 13 goals over those games.
The Hurricanes come into Monday night’s game riding a three-game winning streak and are within two points of the New York Islanders for third place in the Metropolitan Division and three points of the Pittsburgh Penguins for second. Though, the Islanders have two games in hand on the Hurricanes while both the Hurricanes and Penguins will enter Monday night with 45 games under their belts. Their 5-2-0 homestand followed a three-game regulation losing streak.
Forward Teuvo Teravainen leads the Hurricanes with 34 assists, which rank eighth in the NHL, and 43 points, which are 24th, in 45 games this season. After a three-game scoring drought, the 25-year old recorded two points, including a goal, against the Kings on Saturday. Center Sebastian Aho leads the Hurricanes with 23 goals this season, which is good for 10th. Defenseman Dougie Hamilton’s +30 rating this season is the best in the NHL while his 46 points rank third among defensemen and his 14 goals are one behind Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets for first among defensemen. The Hurricanes signed forward Justin Williams, who was second on the team with 23 goals and third with 53 points a season ago, to a one-year contract on Tuesday night. He could make his season debut against his former team on Monday night.
The Hurricanes rank third in the league with an average of 29.1 shots-against per game behind only the Kings (28.9) and Philadelphia Flyers (29) and 34 shots-per-game behind only the Montreal Canadiens (34.9) and Vegas Golden Knights (34.2). Their 22.5% power-play efficiency is the eighth-best while their 82.4% penalty-killing rate is ninth. The Hurricanes’ average of 3.29 goals-per-game is tied with the Vancouver Canucks for 10th in the league while their average of 2.73 goals-against per game is eighth. Their 50.9% faceoff-winning percentage is the 10th-highest in the league.
The Hurricanes goaltenders have back-to-back shutouts coming into Monday’s game. Goaltender Petr Mrazek, who is 17-10-2 with a .905 save percentage, a 2.64 goals-against average, and three shutouts this season, is expected to start against the Capitals on Monday night. In 12 career regular-season games against the Capitals, the 27-year old is 4-6-2 with a .908 save percentage, a 2.77 goals-against average, and one shutout. He stopped 25 of 29 shots in each of his two appearances against the Capitals this season, a 6-4 win on December 28 and a 4-3 loss six days later.
The Capitals are looking for a turnaround to end a short two-game regulation slide and to bounce back from arguably their worst performance of the season, a 5-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night. Since a dominant 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on December 21, the Capitals are 4-5-0 and have allowed at least four goals five times and 34 goals in total (an average of 3.78 per game) over that stretch. The Capitals are now in a three-way tie for first place in the NHL this season with the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues.
The Capitals continue a three-game homestand and a stretch where they play 11 of 16 games at Capital One Arena. They are 13-5-4 on home ice this season but have lost two of their last four home games and have allowed at least four goals in three, a stretch that followed a 5-1-0 stint during which they won three in a row at Capital One Arena.
Defenseman John Carlson‘s 55 points in 46 games this season rank 10th in the NHL this season while his 42 assists are fourth. He has seven points, all assists, in his past seven games but has a -8 rating in his last nine. Though, his +13 rating still ranks second on the Capitals behind defenseman Radko Gudas (+20). Captain Alex Ovechkin ranks fifth in the NHL with 26 goals this season. After a five-game point streak where he recorded two goals and five points, the 34-year old has been held off of the scoresheet in three of the past four games while posting just two goals during that stretch.
The Capitals’ average of 3.50 goals-per-game is the fifth-highest in the NHL this season, though they have scored only three over their last two games, while their average of 2.96 goals-against per game is tied with the Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames for 11th. Their 21% power-play efficiency entered Sunday 12th in the league but came into Saturday’s loss 30th in the NHL with a 13.7% efficiency since December 1 before going one-for-five against the Devils. The Capitals’ 83.8% penalty-killing rate is tied with the Bruins and Arizona Coyotes for the second-best in the league. Their average of 31.9 shots-per-game is 12th while their average of 29.9 shots-against per game is the sixth-fewest.
Goaltender Ilya Samsonov, who is 12-2-1 with a .921 save percentage and a 2.24 goals-against average, which is tied for fifth in the NHL with Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop, this season, will start against the Hurricanes on Monday night. The 22-year old made 38 saves in the Capitals’ 4-3 victory in Raleigh 10 days ago, his first career start against the Hurricanes. He made 26 saves in his last start, a 6-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.
- Ovechkin enters Monday one goal shy of passing Teemu Selanne (684) for 11th on the NHL’s all-time goals list
- Forward Tom Wilson is expected to suit up in his 500th career NHL game on Monday night; at 25 years and 290 days, he will become the youngest forward in franchise history to play 500 games
- Samsonov has earned a win in each of his last seven starts dating back to the Capitals’ 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on November 30, posting a 1.83 goals-against average and .932 save percentage during the streak
- Forward Jakub Vrana has five goals in his last five games
- The Capitals have posted a record of 6-7-1 against Metropolitan Division teams this season
- Averaging 20:34 per game, Ovechkin is on pace to record the 11th-most time on ice in a season by a forward age 34 older since 1998-99 and the most since 2013-14 (Martin St. Louis: 20:56, 38 years old)
- The Capitals have a 20-3-1 record in games where they take more penalties than their opponents
By Harrison Brown