The Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes have something in common going into Monday night’s meeting at Raleigh, N.C.
Both teams are coming off road victories, but they weren’t achieved under ideal circumstances. The edge on Monday could go to the team that adjusts best to its situation.
Right winger T.J. Oshie and defenseman John Carlson exited early for the Capitals in their 3-0 triumph at Nashville on Saturday.
“They’re both lower-body (ailments) and we’re evaluating them,” Washington coach Peter Laviolette said.
The Hurricanes were far from smooth at Philadelphia on Saturday, yet they came out on top 4-3 in overtime.
“We can’t play like that and expect to be too successful,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
Monday’s game brings Laviolette back to Raleigh. He was the coach of the Hurricanes in 2006, when they won the Stanley Cup with Brind’Amour as the captain.
Both teams had challenging road assignments across the opening couple of weeks of the season. Monday’s game completes a four-game road stretch for the Capitals.
The Hurricanes returned from an early Western Conference swing and played on back-to-back nights, losing at home to the New York Islanders on Friday before facing the Flyers. Brent Burns scored the winning goal Saturday night, another step in his acclimation to the Hurricanes.
“I think it has been an adjustment, but that’s what he does,” Brind’Amour said of Burns coming up big in clutch situations.
That could also be true of Hurricanes forward Martin Necas, who has been consistent to start the season. Brind’Amour said Necas might be considered Carolina’s best player to date with 11 points (five goals, six assists).
“Just try to be better at 5-on-5,” Necas said about his hot start. “Just be prepared for the season as much as possible. So far it has been good, but it’s only eight games in a season.”
If Necas continues to be a factor at this rate, it will open areas on the ice for the Hurricanes’ other skilled skaters.
“Every time he gets the puck, he looks like he’s going to get a scoring chance, or somebody else will,” Carolina goalie Antti Raanta said of Necas. “He looks really good, and he’s looked really good since training camp. It’s not a big surprise, but it’s nice for him to get those goals, assists and keep the confidence high.”
Washington’s past two games have involved shutouts. In addition to Saturday’s 3-0 victory, the Capitals were blanked 2-0 on Thursday on the road against the Dallas Stars.
“Everyone knew they had to step up,” Capitals forward Anthony Mantha said of the rebound game against the Predators.
The victory was particularly impressive after the Capitals overcame the loss of two of their key contributors.
“We’re well-rehearsed with this,” Laviolette said of injuries piling up in previous seasons. “We’ve had to fill holes in order to keep moving forward.”
Dealing with various degrees of adversity in the opening stretch of the season could be a bonus in the big picture for the Capitals.
“Everybody tried to play for each other,” defenseman Dmitry Orlov said. “Not easy games.”
Carolina could be in for a lineup change after forward Derek Stepan exited Saturday night’s game with an upper-body injury.
–Field Level Media