Caps get another crack at Carolina, hope to end rare skid

There have been signs of a rivalry brewing between the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes, and the schedule makers are doing their part.

The teams meet for the second time in seven nights when the Capitals return to Raleigh for Friday night's game at PNC Arena.

Plus, they'll get together 10 days later in Washington.

"It's always competitive for us playing against these guys," Hurricanes left winger Warren Foegele said.

The Capitals entered Thursday's action with the best record in the NHL, but they've lost both meetings with the Hurricanes this season. That's four defeats in a row for Washington to its new nemesis because Carolina won the final two games of last spring's playoff series to secure an upset in the seven-game battle.

The Hurricanes snapped a recent three-game December losing streak when they defeated Washington 6-4 last Saturday. That was a crucial time for the Hurricanes, who coach Rod Brind'Amour described as the more desperate team.

But now the Hurricanes likely have Washington's full attention.

"All the games (with the Capitals) have been tight and feels like (they) can go either way," Brind'Amour said.

The Capitals have reached the midway mark of their schedule, holding a 27-9-5 record.

"We know we still have a long way to go to get where we want to be," Capitals goalie Braden Holtby said.

Washington became the final team this season to lose consecutive games in regulation. That happened with Tuesday's 4-3 setback to the New York Islanders after the loss in the previous game to Carolina.

"We don't talk about that too much. We try to win every game," Capitals right winger Tom Wilson said. "You've got to be consistent in this league. If you lose a couple, you've got to go out there and get the job done."

Wilson said the games against division opponents take on a different vibe.

"We've played some good hockey in the first half of the (season)," Wilson said. "We've just got to make sure we're focused and we're ready to go against the Metro opponents."

Last weekend's matchup between the Capitals and Hurricanes featured potential swings in fortunes.

"We'd get a little bit of momentum and then we'd give it back," Capitals coach Todd Reirden said.

It's important to keep it simple and stick to the plan against the Capitals, Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton said.

"We know how good they are," Hamilton said.

The Hurricanes have been careful about what they say regarding recent success against Washington. Those results probably irk the Capitals.

"It's always tough to lose to this team," Reirden said.

The Hurricanes have a 24-14-2 record, so they trail Washington by nine points. This will conclude the first half of Carolina's schedule.

"Washington has got a huge cushion," Brind'Amour said.

Wilson has points in four of his past five games, though he missed last week's game against the Hurricanes for his only absence from the lineup this season.

Carolina center Lucas Wallmark has a career-best seven-game points streak.

This will mark the third game of Carolina's seven-game homestand.

The Hurricanes had a special 2019 calendar year, notching a 54-26-4 record, with the 112 points the third-most for any NHL team in 2019. Those were the most wins in franchise history, capped by Tuesday night's 3-1 triumph against the Montreal Canadiens.

--Field Level Media