Washington looks to continue its domination of Carolina when the teams play their first contest since the All-Star break.
The Capitals have won just 17 of 55 games this season, but four of those victories have come at the expense of the Hurricanes. Washington has outscored Carolina 20-6 in winning five straight in the series dating to last season.
“They’re a highly skilled team,” said Carolina goalie Kevin Weekes, 0-3 with a 4.42 goals-against average against Washington this season. “You give them time and space and power-play opportunities, they’re going to capitalize.”
Washington lost 5-1 on the road to the Philadelphia Flyers in its final game before the break last Wednesday. The Capitals have dropped two of three and five of their last eight.
“We just need energy,” Washington coach Glen Hanlon said. “We feel that we have enough to be competitive if we play with structure and pursue pucks.”
Carolina also struggled before the break. The Hurricanes suffered a 3-2 road loss to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks last Wednesday to extend their winless streak to four games (0-3-1).
Washington is 14th in the 15-team Eastern Conference, and Carolina is just five points ahead in 13th. As they fight for the slimmest chance to make the playoffs, Washington forward Peter Bondra said anything could happen in the Capitals’ remaining two games with the Hurricanes.
“Every game’s going to be tight, a lot of physical battles,” said Bondra, who has three goals and four assists in the four wins over Carolina this season. “We expect them to do the same thing.”
The Capitals and Hurricanes conclude their season series Feb. 25 in Washington.