2/20/2012 7:31:51 AM
The Caps try to rebound from a weekend loss this evening as they battle a
Carolina Hurricanes club that is running out of time to move up the standings.
Washington visited the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday looking to win two
straight for the first time since a three-game run from Jan. 11-15. Fresh off
a win over the Southeast Division-leading Panthers, the Capitals were dealt a
2-1 loss by the Lightning and now sit two points behind first place.
The Capitals' 63-point total also has them one back of the Maple Leafs and
Jets for the East's eighth spot.
Brooks Laich scored the only goal for Washington, which has lost four of five
and nine of its last 13. Tomas Vokoun ended with 21 saves.
"[The Lightning] clogged it up pretty good. Definitely we were trying to be
maybe too cute, but they blocked a lot of shots. We couldn't get shots
through," said Caps head coach Dale Hunter.
Alexander Semin picked up an assist on Laich's goal and has nine points over
his last eight games. Alex Ovechkin was held off the scoresheet but still has
nine points in his past nine games.
Washington saw the return of Mike Green on Saturday as the defenseman played
for the first time since Jan. 7 after undergoing sports hernia surgery. Green
logged a little over 14 minutes of action and said afterwards that he "felt
"I think they scheduled me to come back so I could have an off day [Sunday],"
he said. "That's the plan and I think we'll stick with it."
Washington fell to 10-5-2 versus the Southeast Division and that includes a
3-1-0 mark in four games versus Carolina this year. The Capitals are 8-1-1 in
their last 10 versus the Hurricanes overall and had won four in a row at
Carolina before dropping a 3-0 decision at RBC Center when the clubs last met
on Jan. 20.
Cam Ward logged a 23-save shutout to down the Capitals, but is doubtful for
this game after exiting Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Islanders. Ward allowed
three goals on 21 shots through two periods, but did not return for the third
due to a lower-body injury. Justin Peters made nine saves on 10 shots in
relief, but was beaten for the game-winner just 38 seconds into the frame.
Peters had gotten the start the previous day versus the Sharks, making 35
saves in a 3-2 victory in his first action since Jan. 7. Peters has appeared
in just four games this season for the usually-durable Ward.
Brandon Sutter, Jiri Tlusty and Jaroslav Spacek each lit the lamp for the
Hurricanes, who had their season-high six-game point streak (4-0-2) snapped.
"They scored the majority of their goals on the rush," said Hurricanes forward
Eric Staal. "And that's where they hurt us."
Tlusty has four goals and three assists over a seven-game point streak, while
Staal has four goals and eight points in his last five games.
Carolina, which opens a six-game homestand, sits last in the East with 55
points, two behind Buffalo and three back of a trio of teams that are tied for
the 11th spot.