for this game

Caps eye share of first place in clash with 'Canes

Jan 15, 2012 - 4:25 PM (Sports Network) - The Washington Capitals have a chance this evening to move into a tie for the lead in the Southeast Division, but the Carolina Hurricanes aren't likely to be intimidated.

Coming off yet another victory over the defending Stanley Cup champions, the 'Canes try to secure a third straight win in a meeting with the charging Capitals and could have reigning Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner back in action as well.

Carolina had lost four of five prior to a 5-2 win at Tampa Bay on Thursday, a victory in which it scored four times in the opening period. The Hurricanes kept that momentum going on Saturday with a 4-2 win over the Bruins, their third victory over Boston this season.

This time the Hurricanes used a late surge, posting three goals in the final frame. Justin Faulk began the run with his fourth goal of the season with 6:02 left and Jay Harrison notched the game-winner with 1:30 to play. Eric Staal sealed things with an empty-net tally 28 ticks later.

"Tampa was one of our better games all year, and we felt pretty good tonight," Faulk said when referencing the win over the Lightning on Thursday.

Cam Ward made 33 saves, while Harrison scored for the fourth time in four games to give him a career-high seven on the season.

Carolina's win over Tampa Bay on Thursday snapped a six-game road slide, giving the 'Canes a 5-12-4 record as the guest.

Carolina could also get a boost today if Skinner can return from a 16-game absence caused by a concussion. He was activated from injured reserve early on Sunday after logging 12 goals and 24 points prior to suffering his injury on Dec. 7. Skinner had 63 points as a rookie last year and is eligible to play versus the Capitals.

While the Hurricanes have had success this year versus the Bruins, they have struggled against the Capitals. They have dropped both meetings this year, including an overtime defeat in Washington on Oct. 8, and have lost eight of the past 11 in this series. Carolina has also lost four of five and six of its last eight in Washington.

The Capitals have won the past four Southeast Division titles and come into this meeting two points behind the first-place Panthers. They have won two straight and six of their last eight.

Washington was last in action on Friday and used Troy Brouwer's first career hat trick to notch a 4-3 win over Tampa Bay. Alex Ovechkin had the other goal, while both Dennis Wideman and Brooks Laich had two assists each.

"I think we had things going really good tonight," said Ovechkin, who netted his team-leading 18th goal of the season and seventh in his past nine. "Right now we need to keep it simple and keep things going because we need the points."

Tomas Vokoun made 28 saves for the win as the Capitals have now won the first two of a four-game homestand and six in a row as the host overall.