Hurricanes Vs. Capitals: In Comeback Fashion, Caps Defeat Hurricanes 2-1 For Seventh Straight Win

In what has become typical for the Caps, they came back from a late 1-0 deficit to defeat the Hurricanes for their season-high seventh straight victory.

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Hurricanes Vs. Capitals: Braden Holtby Is Rock Solid In Washington's 2-1 Win Over Carolina

Washington, DC-With the Washington Capitals leading the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in the third period, Braden Holtby was trying to gather the puck just outside his crease in front of the net, but it slipped free and was shot past him. However, the officials blew the play dead believing the 21-year old goalie had covered it up.

Sometime even the hottest goalies need a little luck and Holtby received some at the right time as the Capitals held on for another one goal victory.

Holtby more than made up for his gaffe with a 40-save gem, allowing just one goal in another stellar performance in front of the Verizon faithful.

Alex Ovechkin brought the Caps to life 47 seconds into the third period with a laser from the blue line, but the goal wouldn't have mattered if Holtby wasn't rock solid once again.

Holtby has given up one goal in last 165:00, but he credited his defense for some of his success against the Hurricanes.

"It was more of a goalies type game," he said. "You were going to face action all night and our guys did a great job not making that action very difficult. [There were] a lot of saves that were pretty routine and all I had to do was set them up for my teammates."

The youngest of the Capitals net-minding trio, Holtby has adjusted well to the NHL and has done so in a mere 11 games. He rebounded from a dismal showing in a shootout against the Rangers by stopping all three shots in a shootout against Tampa Bay last week. Friday night he showed composure in the crease while facing a barrage of rubber.

"I think just with my teammates knowing that they have a bit more confidence in me that's the biggest thing as a goalie," he said. "You want to know you're teammates have confidence in giving you the shot and playing their position instead of trying to do too much and that's basically the thing that's made it easier."

It's not certain whether he'll end up with the team in the postseason, but Holtby's recent string of wins indicates the Capitals can trust him should Semyon Varlamov or Michal Neuvirth succumb to the injury bug that has plagued them all season.

On the other side of the ice, Carolina goaltender Cam Ward stopped Jason Arnott's breakaway bid in the third period, but Matt Hendricks was trailing the play and scored on the rebound to break a 1-1 tie.

"That's what he does," said Bruce Boudreau of Hendricks. "He's going to get those dirty goals in the crease. He's not going to get the end-to-end goals .... I'm happy for him because he works really hard all the time so he deserves some success offensively every now and again."

Ovechkin's goal extended his point streak to seven games. He has steadily improved down the stretch and appears poised to emerge once again as the focal point of the offense.

The Capitals have won seven straight heading into a marquee matchup with the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. With the win Friday, they maintain their number two seeding in the Eastern Conference playoff race.


Hurricanes Vs. Capitals: Tuomo Ruutu Breaks Scoreless Tie, Hurricanes Lead Caps 1-0

With 44 combined shots between the Capitals and Hurricanes, something had to give. Unfortunately, it was in Carolina's favor.

Tuomo Ruutu scored his 16th goal of the season with less than a minute left to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead after 40 minutes.

Ruutu would break the scoreless tie and Braden Holtby's shutout streak at 19:24. Bryan Allen would send the puck hard around the end boards that somehow snuck by the Capitals' defense. Cory Stillman found Ruutu cutting through the slot and he fired a top-shelf wrist shot over Holtby's right shoulder to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead entering the second intermission.

Holtby's shutout streak ends at 155:10. Shots are 25-19 in favor of the Hurricanes.


Hurricanes Vs. Capitals: Fast-Paced First Period Ends Scoreless

Despite plenty of chances by both teams, the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes are tied at 0-0 at the end of the first period.

Carolina would get the first six shots on net and 10 of the first 14, but the Caps would catch up and only trail 13-9 in that category. The Hurricanes would also get the first two power plays of the game, but the Caps' fourth-ranked penalty kill unit would hold them at bay. The Caps would get two power plays of their own. The second one, on a penalty from Eric Staal, has 1:17 remaining on it entering the second period.

Braden Holtby would make 13 saves and has yet to give up a goal since relieving Michal Neuvirth in the second period of Monday's 2-1 shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Cam Ward has nine saves of his own for the Hurricanes.


Hurricanes Vs. Capitals: Caps Look To Blow Away Hurricanes, Extend Winning Streak To Seven

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.

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