The Washington Capitals will meet the Carolina Hurricanes for the first time this season, as the Southeast Division foes collide Tuesday at the Verizon Center in D.C.
The Caps and Hurricanes split six encounters during the 2011-12 campaign, but Carolina won three straight to end the season series. Tuesday's meeting is the first of five matchups scheduled between the clubs this season.
Washington has played its best hockey of the season over the last two weeks, winning four of its last six contests. Washington earned a blowout win in its most recent game, defeating the New Jersey Devils by a 5-1 score on Saturday.
Alex Ovechkin scored two of Washington's four third-period goals to complete his 11th career hat trick in the second of two straight home games against the Devils. Eric Fehr and Troy Brouwer also scored in the third period for the Capitals, who bounced back from a 3-2 loss to the Devils on Thursday in Washington. A quirk in the shortened schedule forced the teams to play consecutively in the same city.
Mike Ribeiro set up two goals for Ovechkin, who added an assist for a four- point game. Six of Ovechkin's eight goals this season have come over his last seven games and the hat trick was his first since Jan. 22, 2011 against Toronto.
"The last few weeks he seemed to have had a lot of jump and has been making good decisions and getting more involved in the game, and I have been trying to find more minutes for him," said Caps head coach Adam Oates.
Braden Holtby, who signed a two-year extension with the Caps on Monday, stopped 21 shots for Washington.
Washington forward Nicklas Backstrom is questionable for Tuesday's game with an illness that caused him to miss practice on Monday. Backstrom has just one goal this season, but is third on the team with 13 points.
The Caps are 4-5-0 as the host this season and will play their next two games on the road, beginning with Wednesday's test in Philadelphia.
Carolina had lost three straight in regulation before ending the slide with Sunday's 4-2 win at the New York Islanders.
Bobby Sanguinetti's first career goal proved to be the winner as the Hurricanes rallied for a 4-2 win over the Islanders on Sunday. Carolina trailed 2-0 in the first period, but scored twice in the second to even things before adding two more tallies in the final 20 minutes.
Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin each posted a goal and an assist while Eric Staal also scored for the Hurricanes. Cam Ward made 23 saves in the win.
"It was nice to get those quick two goals before we went into the third. We felt pretty confident...we could find a way to win," Jordan Staal said.
The victory improved Carolina to 6-3-1 on the road this season compared to a 3-4-0 mark at home.