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Capitals-Hurricanes Preview

AP - Sports

The Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes are trying to close the gap in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

A meeting in Raleigh might indicate the advantage goes to the visitor.

The Capitals attempt to win for the sixth time in eight visits to PNC Arena on Tuesday night while the Hurricanes try to snap a four-game slide at home.

Washington (16-17-2) and Carolina (16-16-2) are tied for 10th in the conference, three points behind the New York Rangers and Islanders for the eighth and final playoff position.

The Capitals and Hurricanes are also vying for the Southeast Division title, sitting four points behind first-place Winnipeg, which visits the Islanders.

Washington may have the edge in trying to cut into those deficits since it's won five of the past seven road meetings with Carolina, including a 3-2 victory March 14 after dropping the opener of the home-and-home set 4-0 two days earlier.

The latest matchup with the Hurricanes was the opener of a stretch of nine of 11 games on the road for Washington, which is 6-3-1 over that span heading back to Carolina.

The Capitals appeared to be on their way to a fifth straight road victory Sunday, but they blew a two-goal, third-period lead to Philadelphia, yielding the equalizer with 9.5 seconds left in regulation. They then allowed a goal 1:34 into overtime in a 5-4 loss.

"It keeps getting tougher because we keep playing teams that we have to try and leapfrog to get into the playoffs," right wing Troy Brouwer told the Capitals' official website.

Alex Ovechkin has heated up for the Capitals, tallying nine goals - six on the power play - and five assists over the last 10 games. The star left wing scored again on the man-advantage against the Flyers, running his season-high point streak to eight games.

Ovechkin hasn't had points in nine straight since Jan. 27-Feb. 11, 2010. He figures to have a good chance to match that run with 32 points in 24 visits to Raleigh after getting two there last month.

The Hurricanes are mired in a 1-8-1 slide that continued with Monday's 4-1 loss at Montreal.

They've lost a season-high four straight at home, a skid that started with the most recent defeat to the Capitals.

"We haven't consistently found our game," said Jordan Staal, who scored his team's lone goal Monday. "We've had some spurts and played a really solid game in Winnipeg (on Saturday). Again, even (Monday), we had some spurts here and there, but it's just not a consistent game that we're playing."

Making the playoffs will be extremely difficult if Carolina can't improve offensively. The Hurricanes have been held to 15 goals over the past 10 games, scoring one in seven of those contests.

Eric Staal is looking to rebound from Monday's pointless effort after accumulating 10 over the previous 10 games. The Hurricanes captain has 14 goals and 19 assists in 28 career home meetings with Washington, collecting six points in the past three.

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