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AP - Sports

Alex Ovechkin is on the cusp of the longest point drought of his career.

A meeting with the Carolina Hurricanes would appear to be just what he needs to avoid it.

Ovechkin will try to continue his production against the Hurricanes and help prevent the Washington Capitals from losing a third straight home meeting for the first time in 22 years Thursday night.

Ovechkin is the reigning Hart Trophy winner and the NHL leader with 30 goals while his 41 points rank in the top 10. He's been unable to add to those totals recently, coming up pointless in a career high-tying four straight games despite registering 31 shots.i

The superstar's struggles have also coincided with Washington (20-15-5) losing four of five, falling 3-1 at Ottawa on Monday, a day after losing 2-1 in a shootout to league-worst Buffalo.

Those defeats came despite the Capitals outshooting both teams by a total of 85-55.

"I think we have lots of opportunities to score goals. I think 85 shots in two games, it's a lot," said Ovechkin, who has 19 shots in the last two games. "I think we can create more traffic in front of net."

Facing the Hurricanes (15-16-9) could at least help get Ovechkin going.

He's compiled 69 points in 55 career meetings, his second-highest total against any opponent. That includes five goals and four assists over the past six matchups.

The recent scoring woes aren't the only issue troubling the Capitals. They're dealing with trade demands from a number of players, including goaltender Michael Neuvirth, who has dropped to third on the depth chart thanks to the emergence of rookie Philipp Grubauer.

Grubauer made 39 saves in a 4-2 win at Carolina on Dec. 20, and will likely be in net Thursday.

The Capitals have lost both home meetings with the Hurricanes this season, including a 4-1 defeat Dec. 3. They haven't lost three straight there in the series since a four-game slide March 2, 1990-March 24, 1992, when the Hurricanes were the Hartford Whalers.

Carolina enters this matchup after scoring four straight goals in the third period before beating Montreal 5-4 in overtime to end a five-game skid Tuesday.

"This can be the period that turns the season around," coach Kirk Muller said.

The Hurricanes are entering a stretch of three of four games on the road, where they've dropped five of six (1-2-3).

"(Tuesday's) win doesn't mean anything if we don't follow it up," left wing Jeff Skinner told the team's official website. "You can't dwell on it ... That's the mindset going into (Thursday)."

Skinner has 11 points in his past eight games at Washington, including five in two this season. He scored two goals and assisted on another Dec. 3.

Skinner leads the Hurricanes with 16 goals, notching four with two assists in the past four games. He had a big hand in Tuesday's comeback, scoring the first two goals of the third period in a 37-second span before assisting on Eric's Staal's tying tally less than two minutes later.

Staal added a pair of assists against the Canadiens, and he's totaled 21 points in his last 16 road meetings with the Capitals.

The Hurricanes may have John-Michael Liles dressed after acquiring him from Toronto in exchange for fellow defenseman Tim Gleason on Wednesday.

General manager Jim Rutherford said Liles is a puck-mover who "can make a difference offensively" from the blue line. However, Liles has no points in six games this season and none in 12 career meetings with Washington.

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