No Reason to Jump Off Caps’ Home Bandwagon vs. Hurricanes

capitals hurricanes

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 4:49 PM GMT

Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 4:49 PM GMT

The Washington Capitals are the hottest team in the NHL right now as they put a five-game winning streak on the line against the visiting Hurricanes on Thursday (7 p.m. ET).

Carolina Hurricanes at Washington CapitalsFree NHL Pick: CapitalsBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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It’s a 7 p.m. ET puck drop from D.C. on Thursday between Carolina and Washington. The NHL is in the midst of giving some teams a bye week, so the schedule is a bit odd right now. For example, there was just one game Monday, two on Wednesday and three Thursday. The Capitals and Hurricanes play three times in 10 days – they do again Friday in North Carolina -- and then not again until March 30.

The Capitals won in Raleigh on Jan. 2, 5-4 in overtime. Scorching-hot Alex Ovechkin had two goals, including the winner 1:57 into OT after the Hurricanes’ Sebastian Aho hit the post on the previous possession. Ovechkin also tied it with 7:15 left in regulation, and Nicklas Backstrom assisted on both of his goals. Alex Chiasson, Devante Smith-Pelly and Dmitry Orlov also scored for Washington, while Braden Holtby had 34 saves. Carolina two goals from Victor Rask, who was actually the game’s No. 1 star, as well as from Elias Lindholm and Teuvo Teravainen. Cam Ward stopped 21 shots.

Carolina has lost four straight in this series overall on the NHL odds and six in a row in D.C. The ‘over’ is 4-0-1 in the past five meetings.

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Good Luck Beating Caps In D.C.

Of course, the Capitals were the NHL’s best regular-season team the past two years but that did them little good in the playoffs as they were eliminated both times by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Washington (27-13-3) leads the Metropolitan Division again and has the NHL’s longest winning streak at a season-high five in a row.

Their fewest goals scored in that run was in Tuesday’s 3-1 home victory over Vancouver, which improved the Caps to 18-5-0 at home and was their 10th straight home-ice victory. They are the only team in the league without a home loss since the beginning of December. "I would say that at home here, we've sort of got some traction," said Coach Barry Trotz.

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Caps 365 | Five straight wins - Ten straight on home ice. Caps are officially rolling. #CapsNucks #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/B2UPAPQeME

— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 10, 2018
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Ovechkin, who is battling Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov for the league lead in goals, was held off the scoresheet, but Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his first goal since Dec. 22. Holtby got the night off and Philipp Grubauer made 37 saves. Presumably, Holtby will play Thursday night and then it Grubauer on Friday back in North Carolina. Holtby is 24-8-0 with a 2.68 GAA and .917 save percentage. He’s 15-4-0 at home with a 2.14 GAA and .932 SV. Grubauer actually has a better overall GAA (2.56) in his 14 games than Holtby does in his 32.

Carolina (19-15-8) likely will continue the NHL’s longest playoff drought as the franchise last made it in 2009. The Canes are in the midst of about the toughest four-game road trip a team could deal with. They won 4-0 at Pittsburgh last Thursday, lost 7-1 at surging Boston on Saturday and then were beaten 5-4 at the NHL-best Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.

With Ward being roughed up in the past two outings, it could be Scott Darling on Thursday. This game likely will be the season debut of winger Lee Stempniak, who has been out with an upper-body injury. Stempniak was taken off injured reserve Monday. The 34-year-old had 16 goals and 24 assists last year and played all 82 games for Carolina.

I could see the Caps losing on Friday in the second game of the back-to-back but not here. They are 41-12 in their past 53 at home dating to last year. The Canes have dropped their past four vs. teams with a winning record. The best value Thursday might be Caps on the goal line.

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