After Saturday's prelude to the Winter Classic against the Pittsburgh Penguins was a classic in itself, the Washington Capitals cannot afford to look past their next two opponents before next Saturday's rematch. Sunday night in Raleigh, the Caps will face off with the Carolina Hurricanes with Southeast Division implications at stake.
As the Caps were going through their eight-game losing streak, their lead in the Southeast Division evaporated. Washington now sits in a tie for first with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but are technically iin second because the Lightning have two games in hand. The Atlanta Thrashers are just two points behind Washington and the Hurricanes are 11 points behind.
For the Caps to win, they will need to find their missing power play; they are just 6-for-49 in their last 13 games. Also missing in action is the goal-scoring of Washington's usual contributors: Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom. Green scored Saturday for the first time since November 14, but Ovechkin hasn't scored since December 6, Semin since November 28 and Backstrom since December 1.