(Sports Network) - The surging Carolina Hurricanes will aim for a seventh win
in eight games when they host a struggling Washington Capitals' team in the
finale of a home-and-home series on Thursday.
The Hurricanes, who lead the Southeast Division with 31 points, have won two
straight and six of seven to open a three-point edge over second-place
Winnipeg. Washington, meanwhile, is 10 points behind Carolina in fourth place
and is 14th out of 15 teams in the East.
The Capitals earned a 3-0 home win over the Hurricanes on Feb. 26 when the
clubs met for the first of five encounters this season, but Carolina returned
the favor with a shutout victory Tuesday in D.C. Justin Peters made 26 saves
for his second career shutout and the Hurricanes cruised to the 4-0 decision.
Riley Nash had two goals for the Hurricanes, while Patrick Dwyer and Joe Corvo
also lit the lamp.
"It's a lot of fun just to get an opportunity to play in this league and every
time I get an opportunity, I want to try and take advantage of it," Peters
said. "We played an awesome game tonight as a team right from the drop of the
puck, right to the last buzzer. That was a total group effort tonight and a
huge confidence booster for us."
Braden Holtby stopped 32-of-35 shots for the Capitals, who have been outscored
by a 13-3 margin during their current 0-3 slide.
The Hurricanes and Caps have split the last eight meetings in this series, but
Washington has lost its past two games at Carolina.
Carolina continues to play without No. 1 goaltender Cam Ward, who is expected
to be sidelined until late April with a sprained MCL. Peters has started three
of the Hurricanes' four games since Ward went down to injury on March 3 and is
2-1-0 in those contests with a 2.35 goals against average. Despite Peters'
solid play, Dan Ellis could get the call in net on Thursday.
Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen has missed five straight and 11 of the
last 12 games with a lower-body injury, but he is questionable for Thursday.
Washington hasn't been immune to the injury bug either and the team is
currently dealing with several banged up defenseman. With Mike Green and John
Erskine already sidelined, Tom Poti was put into action for one game on Sunday
before missing the opener against Carolina with an upper body issue. Poti will
travel with the team to Raleigh and is questionable for Thursday.
Also, forward Brooks Laich is nearing return to the ice after missing the
entire season so far with a groin problem. Laich participated in Washington's
Tuesday skate around and could make his season debut on Thursday.
Carolina is 7-5-0 as the host this season, while the Capitals are just 3-7-1
as the guest.
The Sports Network