Capitals-Hurricanes Preview

Killing penalties has been a problem for the Washington Capitals, especially lately.

The Capitals seek a better effort from their penalty killers as they try to avoid a third straight loss Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Washington (10-10-4) kills just 74.7 percent of opponents' power plays, ranking only better than Philadelphia's league-low 74.1.

The Capitals have been particularly poor playing short-handed over the past four games, giving up eight goals on 13 chances. They allowed three power-play goals for the second consecutive game in Tuesday's 4-3 defeat to Vancouver.

"We lost this game on the special teams," said coach Barry Trotz, whose own power-play unit was 0 for 2 after going 5 for 8 over the previous four games.

Trotz may also be concerned with Washington giving up the first goal. The team has done that in 12 of its 14 losses this season, including each of the past four during this five-game stretch (1-3-1).

"I think we have such a high confidence level on our ability to come back that sometimes it feels like we aren't urgent enough to get a lead," right wing Eric Fehr said.

John Carlson has six points in three games, scoring two goals and assisting on another by Brooks Laich on Tuesday. His 18 points are third on the team and first among defensemen.

Alex Ovechkin leads the Capitals with 12 goals, but has been held without a point in back-to-back games after scoring three times in the previous two. The right wing has three goals in his last three road games after coming up empty in his previous seven contests.

Ovechkin should be thrilled to visit PNC Arena since he's totaled 37 points in 27 visits for his highest total at any road venue. However, he didn't factor in the scoring and was a minus-2 in a 5-2 win in the most recent matchup there April 10.

He assisted on Nicklas Backstrom's goal with 14 seconds left in overtime of a 4-3 home win Nov. 8.

Backstrom has 19 points in his last 13 games against the Hurricanes (8-13-3), collecting 11 in the past five at Carolina.

Washington has won eight of 10 meetings there, including four straight while scoring 17 goals.

The Hurricanes snapped a three-game home slide with Tuesday's 2-1 victory over Nashville. The win was only the third in 10 games for Carolina, which was coming off a home-and-home split against Pittsburgh.

"It should send a message to our team. We're playing some really good hockey teams," goaltender Cam Ward told the team's official website. "Pittsburgh, one of the top teams, Nashville, one of the top teams. Not only are we hanging with them, but we've had every chance to win hockey games. It's a confidence booster. We realize that we always have to play like that; it's a consistency thing. But we can feel real happy about (Tuesday)."

Jeff Skinner scored one goal and set up another Tuesday after he was held without a point in three straight games. He has six goals and 10 points in his last seven against Washington.

Capitals backup Justin Peters has won just one of his last five starts, but that victory came against Carolina on Nov. 8. Peters spent his first five season with the Hurricanes before signing with Washington.

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