Despite their six-game winning streak, the Washington Capitals aren't blowing any other teams away in the Eastern Conference. Yet, it's fitting that the Caps will host the Carolina Hurricanes Friday at Verizon Center as they look to do just that.
Washington's 5-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers Wednesday gave the Caps their longest winning streak since October 30-November 11. With a win Friday, the Caps will have their longest winning streak of the season. The Caps are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games and have catapulted themselves from fifth place in the Eastern Conference and second in the Southeast Division to second place and first place, respectively, entering Thursday's action.
While the Caps continue to fight with the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning at the top of the Eastern Conference standings, the Hurricanes are doing the same at the bottom. Carolina is locked in a three-team battle for the final two spots with the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres. The Hurricanes are in ninth with 72 points entering Thursday's games, tied with the Sabres, while the Rangers are in seventh with 74 points. A 6-7-4 record since hosting the NHL All-Star Game has the Toronto Maple Leafs, Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils nipping at the Hurricanes' proverbial heels as well.
In injury news, Nicklas Backstrom participated in drills Wednesday while wearing a no-contact jersey. Backstrom sat out of Wednesday's game, making it the first time he's missed a game in his four seasons with Washington. Mike Green also skated, but since being placed on long-term injured reserve, he cannot return until March 22. Semyon Varlamov would skate as well.
The Hurricanes are the only team in the Southeast Division that the Capitals have an undefeated record against. Washington is 4-0-0 against Carolina this season, with the last three all coming by 3-2 scores.