Caps, Hurricanes set to conclude season series
CAPITALS (49-14-10) at HURRICANES (30-34-9)
: Washington 7-1-2; Carolina 4-4-2.
Season series --
This is the sixth and final meeting between the Southeast Division rivals. Washington has won three of the first five contests, but Carolina won the most recent meeting, a 4-3 overtime decision on March 18 at the RBC Center.
-- The Capitals continue to inch closer to the Presidents' Trophy, as they now have 108 points -- which ties a franchise record that was set last season -- following Wednesday's 4-3 shootout win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Chicago is nine points behind the Caps in the chase for the best record in the League.
Washington had another epic battle with Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, and once again it was the Caps who got the last word. Jordan Staal erased Washington's 3-2 lead with 3:06 left in regulation, but the Capitals got a goal from Mike Knuble in the fourth round of the shootout to secure the team's third win against Pittsburgh in three tries this season.
"It was mentally a very important win for us," Caps forward Alex Ovechkin said. "We know they have a very good team. They miss (Sergei) Gonchar and (Evgeni) Malkin, but they're still the Stanley Cup champions."
Carolina will be looking to avoid its third straight loss on Thursday night. After dropping a 5-3 decision on home ice against Buffalo on Sunday, the Hurricanes came up short on Tuesday in a 3-2 overtime loss at Tampa Bay. Martin St. Louis scored the game-winner for the Lightning.
While it's highly unlikely they'll make the playoffs, the Hurricanes -- ravaged by injuries earlier this season -- are 16-8-1 in their last 25 games.
"We just have to try and do what we've done so well for a long time and put this loss behind us," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said.
Who's hot --
Caps forward Alexander Semin has three goals in his last four games. … Rookie defenseman Jamie McBain
has five points in his first four NHL contests with the Hurricanes.
Injury report --
Washington defenseman Milan Jurcina (sports hernia) is expected to miss another month, while forward Boyd Gordon (back) should return shortly. … Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward
(back) is out and defenseman Tim Gleason
(foot) could be done for the season. Alexandre Picard (upper body) is week-to-week.
Stat pack --
The main reason why Washington has won all three meetings with Pittsburgh this season? Easy. The Caps have outscored the Pens 8-1 in the third period and overtime.
Puck drop --
"I don't know how often you get down 2-0 in a shootout and you come back. It's thinking, 'Oh man, we're done, there's no way.' But, I don't think we ever think that. I think that's the kind of group we have." -- Caps coach Bruce Boudreau