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4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:� BRT, January 2, 2018
PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina  Attendance: 11,989

Caps face Hurricanes before long layoff

Washington Capitals at Carolina Hurricanes

  1. After a 4-3 shootout win over Boston on Thursday, the Capitals beat the Devils on Saturday, 5-2. Washington scored four or more goals eight times in the month of December, second in the NHL to Winnipeg's nine games.
  2. The Capitals are 23-1-1 (.940) when scoring three or more goals this season, the most wins in the NHL and the second-best record (Blues -- 20-1-0, .952). Washington is 1-12-2 (.133) when scoring two goals or fewer, the worst record in the league.
  3. The Hurricanes had their four-game win streak snapped in St. Louis on Saturday after losing, 3-2. Each of their last four games have been decided by two goals or fewer, giving them 30 such games this season, tied with the Rangers and Sabres for the most such games in the league.
  4. The Capitals took three of four from the Hurricanes last season and are 9-3-0 against Carolina since the 2014-15 season. Washington outscored Carolina by 10 goals in the last two meetings, 11-1.
  5. Alex Ovechkin recorded three assists in the win over New Jersey, his 96th career game with three or more points, second in the NHL since 2005-06 behind only Sidney Crosby (96). Ovechkin has six such games this season, tied for the third most in the league.
  6. Carolina is one of two teams that does not have a player with at least 13 goals scored this season (also New Jersey) and is one of four teams that does not have a player with at least 30 points on the year (also Anaheim, Montreal and San Jose).

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Washington Capitals don't have any reason to hold back in their Tuesday night game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.

It will be the only game of the week for the Capitals.

A slate that has big fluctuations is approaching.

"I look at January's schedule," Washington coach Barry Trotz said. "It's a week-to-week schedule. This week we've got one game. ... It's sort of choppy."

This assignment comes against a Carolina team with a six-game, home-ice winning streak.

The Capitals (24-13-3) have gathered at least one point in 12 of their past 14 games while rising to the top of the Metropolitan Division. They probably don't need a layoff the way things have been going, but Trotz said it provides a chance to be wise with the lineup regarding players with ailments.

"We've got a break here," Trotz said of the importance of keeping players fresh and healthy. "When guys are playing a lot of minutes, it takes away some of their sharpness."

After this week, the Capitals will have four games in six days next week followed by a five-day layoff.

The Hurricanes (18-13-7) had a season-best four-game winning streak snapped Saturday night with a 3-2 loss in St. Louis. That doesn't diminish the headway that the team has made the past few weeks.

"It's exciting," coach Bill Peters said of the Tuesday contest, the Hurricanes' first meeting of the season with Washington. "Let's get off to a good start. Our guys are well aware of the standings in the Metro and who we play and who we don't play."

Carolina and Washington meet three times in an 11-day span.

The Capitals have sputtered some on the road recently, going 0-1-2 in their past three road outings.

Trotz, who became the NHL's fifth-winningest coach all-time with his latest victory, No. 737, said the Hurricanes look like a confident team.

"They're playing really well. Their expectations, there is a little bit of weight that comes in with those expectations," Trotz said. "Right now, I think they've found a little bit of a comfort zone with the way they're playing, their lines and their pairings and all that."

Goalie Cam Ward has won his last six decisions for the Hurricanes, though he was the backup on Saturday.

The Capitals are expecting to see Ward in net.

"He has (got) a little bit hot for them, and they've got hot at the same time," Trotz said.

Since returning to the lineup from an injury, right winger T.J. Oshie has only one point in six games for the Capitals.

"I think Osh can be a little better than he has," Trotz said. "He has been at a high level for so long. ... He'll respond. He's too good of player. He's an all-in guy."

For Carolina, with center Marcus Kruger out the past two games with a lower-body injury, the Hurricanes were forced to make adjustments.

"We have to go deeper into our penalty killers," Peters said. "Let's be real disciplined, real intelligent in how we play so when we do have to kill penalties it's for a good reason."

Carolina center Lucas Wallmark scored a goal against St. Louis in his season debut.

Peters said defenseman Haydn Fleury could be back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the past five games.

The Hurricanes play only two home games in the first 13 days of January, both against the Capitals. Carolina heads on the road for four games after the Tuesday night matchup.

Updated January 2, 2018

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