Capitals-Hurricanes Preview

Perhaps a visit to Carolina will help the Washington Capitals get back on track.

Looking to avoid a third straight defeat Friday night, the Capitals try for a sixth straight road win over a Hurricanes team that's already in selling mode.

Though Washington (33-19-10) owns the top wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, Wednesday's 4-3 home loss to Pittsburgh dropped it three points behind the rival Penguins for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

It was the Capitals' second straight one-goal defeat since winning four in a row.

"We've just got to execute," said forward John Carlson, who matched a career high with his 10th goal. "We've got tons of capable players. We've just got to do our jobs better."

After allowing the first goal in three straight and spotting the Penguins a 2-0 first-period advantage, coach Barry Trotz knows it's imperative for the Capitals to have a sense of urgency.

"To me it's just focus, you've got to be focused and ready to go," he said.

His team also must improve its recent special-teams play.

Though Alex Ovechkin scored his 39th on the power play Wednesday, the Capitals failed on their other five chances and allowed a short-handed goal. They're 1 for 12 in three games since going 6 for 16 over the previous three.

Washington's last two opponents have gone 3 for 10 with the man-advantage after it killed all 14 penalties in the previous five. All six Pittsburgh power-play chances came during the second period and resulted in one goal.

"It's tough to try and win games if you're in the box for the entire second period," forward Troy Brouwer told the NHL's official website.

Washington is 5 for 13 on the power play during a five-game winning streak at Carolina (22-30-7), but didn't score on three chances over the last two. It was short-handed once in those previous two games.

Ovechkin has four goals and three assists during that run at Carolina, but no points in the last two there. He had five goals and four assists in five straight road contests before being held without a point in Sunday's 3-2 loss at Philadelphia.

Teammate Braden Holtby has allowed seven goals in two games after yielding four combined to win his previous three. After making 29 saves in a 2-1 win Dec. 4, Holtby improved to 3-0-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average at Carolina.

After a pair of trades this week, the Hurricanes won't resemble the team that dropped the first two meetings this season with Washington.

On Wednesday, they sent third-leading goal scorer Jiri Tlusty to Winnipeg for two draft picks and defenseman Andrej Sekera to Los Angeles for a prospect and another pick.

Cam Ward is still in Carolina and could have the chance to record a fourth straight victory after earning his 500th in Tuesday's 4-1 win over the Flyers.

"I've been very fortunate to be a part of this organization and get the opportunities I've been given. I don't take that for granted," Ward told the Hurricanes' official website. "We've had our fair share of ups and downs, but I definitely choose to remember all the good."

Though Ward has a 1.67 GAA in the last three games, he's yielded three goals each time while losing two of three versus Washington.

Former Capitals forward Alexander Semin has three assists in two games for Carolina, which has won two straight at home. He has three goals with six assists in 11 games against his former team.

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