Who will WIN this matchup?
@ Carolina Hurricanes
Braden Holtby (WSH): Confirmed
Petr Mrazek (CAR): Confirmed
Washington Capitals: (+110)
Carolina Hurricanes: (-130)
• The Carolina Hurricanes will need to answer the witty response of Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis with a strong one on Monday when playoff hockey returns to Raleigh (N.C.) for the first time in nearly a decade. The Hurricanes have seen a pair of late rallies fall short to begin their Eastern Conference first-round series after losing all four regular-season meetings with Washington. “I hope we get a good lift. Our fans are excited. It’s been a long time coming,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said of his team hosting a playoff game for the first time since May 26, 2009. It would behoove the Hurricanes to get off to a better start, as the club has fallen behind early in both contests in Washington.
• Nicklas Backstrom scored twice to highlight the Capitals’ three-goal first period in Thursday’s 4-2 win and joined T.J. Oshie in tallying the opening session on Saturday before defenseman Brooks Orpik converted 1:48 into overtime for the 4-3 victory. “Just like it was drawn up,” Leonsis quipped after the goal by the 38-year-old Orpik, who has scored just four times in 151 NHL playoff games.
• Alex Ovechkin feels as though he has reversed roles with Backstrom thus far in the series, with the superstar captain answering his NHL-best 51 tallies this season by playing more like a distributor in the first two games versus Carolina. “Right now, Backy is a scoring machine and I’m Backstrom,” said Ovechkin, who has a goal and two assists in the series. While the forwards may have temporarily changed roles, Braden Holtby has been extremely consistent as the former Vezina Trophy recipient has turned aside 196 of 209 shots in his last seven contests (7-0-0) — with four of those victories coming against Carolina.
• Leading goal scorer Sebastian Aho was in no mood to celebrate after scoring from a sharp angle late in the second period to snap a 15-game goal drought. “It’s not like we’re playing bad, but this time of year, you’ve got to get that extra step and play even better,” the 21-year-old Finn said. “OK is not OK. We just have to try to play our best.” Lucas Wallmark collected his team-leading third point of the series with a late first-period goal before rookie Andrei Svechnikov matched his total by setting up Jordan Staal’s power-play tally with five minutes remaining in the third to forge a tie at 3.
• Carolina D Dougie Hamilton and LW Micheal Ferland did not receive any supplemental discipline from the NHL following their respective hits on Washington Cs Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nic Dowd in Game 2.
• Although Kuznetsov is tied with D John Carlson with a team co-leading three assists in the series, he has lost 19 of 28 faceoffs.
• Hurricanes G Petr Mrazek has turned aside 43 of 50 shots in the series.