Pre-game primer: No dinner plans for Ovi, Semin

Pre-game primer: No dinner plans for Ovi, Semin
December 3, 2013, 4:15 pm
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Laich's injury means Caps must adjust

Carolina Hurricanes right wing Alexander Semin (28) reacts against the New Jersey Devils at the PNC center. The Devils defeated the Hurricanes 4-1.

(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

News and notes as the Capitals [14-11-2] take on the Carolina Hurricanes [10-12-5] tonight at VerizonCenter [6:30 p.m. Caps Central, CSN]:

No Alex Semin: The Hurricanes will be without right wing Alex Semin [concussion] for the eighth straight game. Semin, who scored 197 goals and was a plus-65 in seven seasons with the Caps, has 3 goals, 6 assists and is a minus-6 in 20 games for Carolina since signing a five-year, $35 million contract extension.

Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin said he was hoping to have dinner with Semin.

“I asked him a couple times how he’s feeling once he got hurt,” Ovechkin said. “You always want to be healthy because you want to be in game shape. When you get hurt like that you can’t do nothing for like two or three weeks and your body gets a little fat. You just get out of shape and you have to work out again. Trust me, it’s the worst feeling ever to ride the bike or do workout stuff when you feeling that pain.”

Projected starters: Caps goalie Braden Holtby is 4-2-0 with a 1.84 GAA and one shutout in six career games against the Hurricanes. Canes goalie Justin Peters is 3-3-0 with a 1.79 GAA and two shutouts in six career games against the Capitals.

RELATED: [ Oates to Green: 'Goals will come' ]

Friendly rivals: The Hurricanes and Flyers are the only two teams in the Metropolitan Division the Caps will play five times this season. This is the second meeting between the teams. The Canes won the first meeting 3-2 on Oct. 10 at Verizon  Center. They play again on Dec. 20 in Raleigh.

Streaky: The Caps have won two straight after a four-game losing streak. The Canes have lost six of their last eight [2-5-1]. The Caps are 6-2-2 in their last 10 home games against the Canes and 12-4-2 against Carolina since the start of the 2010-11 season.

Shorty Canes: The Hurricanes’ five shorthanded goals – all on the road – are tied for the NHL lead. Patrick Dwyer has two shorties and Eric Staal, Nathan Gerbe and Andrej Sekera have the others.

By the numbers: The Hurricanes have struggled in third periods this season, getting outscored 31-15.

RELATED: [ Why Caps said no to Team Canada ]

Special teams: The Caps are ranked fourth on the power play [23.3 percent] and 14th in penalty killing [83.5 percent]. The Canes are 27th on the power play [12.0 percent] and 20th on the kill [79.3 percent]. The Canes are 0-for-10 on the power play in their last three games.

Seeing Green: Caps defenseman Mike Green needs one assist to pass Sylvain Cote [195] for sixth place on the Caps’ all-time assists list for defensemen.

Ovi on fire: With a league-high 21 goals, Alex Ovechkin has scored 83 more goals than any other player during his nine seasons in the NHL. Ovechkin has 44 goals in his last 48 regular-season games, which means he’d need back-to-back hat tricks to pull off his own version of 50 goals in 50 games. Since entering the NHL in 2005-06, Ovechkin leads all NHL players in goals [392], points [763], power-play goals [135], power-play points [297] and game-winning goals [63].

Born in the USA: With 12 goals in the past two seasons Caps defenseman John Carlson ranks second behind Dustin Byfuglien [14] among U.S.-born defensemen. He’ll get a chance to showcase his talents in front of Team USA general manager David Poile Saturday night against the Nashville Predators. Poile is the GM of the Preds.

Nick of time: According to Elias Sports Bureau, Nicklas Backstrom’s game-tying shorthanded goal in the final minute of Saturday night’s 3-2 win over the Islanders in Uniondale marked the first time that’s happened for the Caps since Michal Pivonka did it on Jan. 24, 1990.

CAPITALS

Forward lines

Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Alex Ovechkin

Eric Fehr – Mikhail Grabovksi - TroyBrouwer

Jason Chimera – Jay Beagle – Joel Ward

Aaron Volpatti – Marty Erat – Tom Wilson 

Injury: Brooks Laich [lower body]

Defense pairings 

Karl Alzner – Mike Green

Nate Schmidt – John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov – Tyson Strachan 

Healthy scratches: Alex Urbom, Steve Oleksy

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby [starter] – Philipp Grubauer

HURRICANES

Forward lines

Jeff Skinner - Eric Staal- Tuomo Ruutu

Jiri Tlusty - Jordan Staal - PatrickDwyer

Nathan Gerbe - Elias Lindholm - Riley Nash
Drayson Bowman - Manny Malhotra - RadekDvorak/Kevin Westgarth
Defense Pairings 
Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk
Jay Harrison - Ryan Murphy
Ron Hainsey - Brett Bellemore/Mike Komisarek
 
Goaltenders
Justin Peters [starter] - Cam Ward