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Anaheim Ducks @ Washington Capitals
7:30 PM EST on Versus
The Capitals will try to avoid a third consecutive defeat when they return home Tuesday night to face the Anaheim Ducks, losers of five of six.
The Washington Capitals have cooled off a bit after the best start in franchise history. They might have a good chance to start another run against a team that’s experiencing some more prolonged struggles.
A 2-1 defeat in Edmonton on Thursday prevented Washington from becoming the sixth NHL team to start 8-0-0. After that unusually quiet night from their offense, the Capitals scored four goals in their next game but gave up a season high seven in a loss in Vancouver on Saturday.
Tomas Vokoun did not play his best game of the season. Michal Neuvirth replaced Tomas Vokoun after one period with his team down 3-1 and was solid in the second, helping Washington pull even at 4 all after two. But he allowed three goals in a four minute, seven-second span of the third in the 7-4 defeat. You can say both goalies cost the Capitals their second lost of the season.
The Capitals (7-2-0) have surrendered a pair of power play goals in each loss after killing off 16 of 18 penalties during the final six games of their win streak, continuing the success of having the league’s second-best penalty killing unit last season (85.6 percent).
The Ducks, meanwhile, have converted 13.3 percent of their power play chances this season. But they went 0 for 4 with the man advantage during back-to-back defeats to close October.
Carlyle’s team scored six goals during its most recent matchup with Washington but gave up seven in a home defeat Feb. 16. Alexander Semin rallied Washington to that victory by scoring twice in the final 8:23 to complete his seventh career hat trick.
Semin has six goals in three career games against Anaheim, but missed the most recent meeting at the Verizon Center on Dec. 15. The Ducks won that game 2-1 on Ryan Getzlaf’s overtime goal.
That was the Capitals’ lone loss in their last four games against Anaheim.
Anaheim Ducks – Jonas Hiller
Washington Capitals – Tomas Vokoun
I expect a tight hard fought game between these two clubs. The Capitals coming back home after losing two in a row on the road, should get things back on track tonight. Especially with Vokoun getting the start, showing the coaching staff believes in him in rebounding at home. Between Vokoun and Hiller on the ice tonight, you have no choice but to take the UNDER 5.5 (1 UNIT)
Vancouver Canucks @ Calgary Flames
9:30 PM EST
The Calgary Flames have played well on their six game homestand. Ending it with a victory over a division rival they have struggled against would make it a whole lot better. The Flames have received excellent goaltending and offense from an unlikely source in their last two games, patterns they hope to continue Tuesday night against the Vancouver Canucks.
After losing two of the first three games on their homestand, the Flames (4-4-1) have rebounded by outscoring Colorado and St. Louis 7-3 in a pair of victories.
Miikka Kiprusoff made 28 saves and rookie Roman Horak had a goal an assist in a 3-1 win over the Blues on Friday.
Kiprusoff has won three of his past four starts, posting a 1.51 goals against average. He will be back in net tonight, when the Flames try to end a four game home losing streak to their Northwest Division rivals.
But it may be a hard task to do.
The Canucks (5-5-1) have outscored the Flames 19-8 during those four wins and are 8-0-2 in this matchup overall since a 5-3 loss Oct. 16, 2009.
One reason for Calgary’s lack of success in this series is a power play that is 3 for 38 during the 2-8-0 stretch. That unit is currently in a 2-for-21 slump.
Failure to keep Alex Burrows and Daniel Sedin in check has been the biggest issue for Calgary against Vancouver. Burrows had five goals and four assists in six meetings last season, while Sedin had four goals and five assists.
This is the start of a six game trip for the Canucks, who bounced back from consecutive losses with a 7-4 win over Washington on Saturday. And against a Flames team they recently dominated over, is a good start.
Defenseman Alex Edler had his first two goals of the season with an assist, and Max Lapierre and Chris Higgins each scored twice as Vancouver exceeded its goal total from the previous three games combined.
But once again Roberto Luongo still continues to struggle and facing this Flames team, he may get his swagger back.
Roberto Luongo ranks near the bottom of the NHL with a 3.54 GAA but is 7-0-2 with a 1.97 GAA in his last nine starts against the Flames.
Vancouver Canucks – Roberto Luongo
Calgary Flames – Miikka Kiprusoff
With Luongo posting a 7-0-2 record against the Flames in 9 starts, he should have confidence going into this game on the road. But with how he has been playing this season, this record really doesn’t mean anything. Between all the success the Canucks have had against the Flames, and Luongo struggling. I expect this game to be a high scoring game, OVER 5.5 (1 UNIT)
BIG PUCKING NHL PICK OF THE DAY
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Carolina Hurricanes
7:00 PM EST
Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier is heating up and the Lightning are reaping the benefits. A meeting with the Carolina Hurricanes could help them keep things headed in a positive direction.
Lecavalier looks to extend a 12 game point streak against the Hurricanes when the Lightning visit Raleigh on Tuesday night.
After ending the 2010-11 regular season with a 6-2 win over Carolina, which prevented the Hurricanes from making the playoffs, Tampa Bay (5-4-2) opened this season in similar fashion with a 5-1 victory over its Southeast Division rival on Oct. 7.
Lecavalier scored in that victory and has six goals and nine assists in the last 12 meetings, including five goals in the last six matchups.
Lecavalier’s production has helped the Lightning win four of five after a five game skid. Also contributing to the current surge is strong play from goaltenders Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson.
Boucher expressed concern Monday about the status of left wing Ryan Malone, who is day to day with an undisclosed injury. Malone has two goals and an assist in the last five games.
“If Malone’s OK, it’s a relief because we can keep our lines together,” Boucher said.
Even if he’s unable to go, the Lightning have a good chance to extend their three game winning streak against Carolina (4-4-3), which is coming off a 5-1 loss at Philadelphia on Saturday.
Brian Boucher gave up five goals on 34 shots, including three in the first 7:36 of the third period.
The poor defensive effort came one night after the Hurricanes beat Chicago 3-0 at home. Despite that impressive performance, defense has been a problem for Carolina, which ranks 25th in the NHL with 3.09 goals allowed per game.
The Hurricanes, who have one win in their last five games (1-2-2), are 1 for 21 on the power play over the last five contests after converting six times in their first 33 opportunities.
Still, the Hurricanes aren’t too concerned about their start, which includes only three home games. They play their next three at home.
Carolina has also struggled to stop Martin St. Louis, who has a seven game point streak in this series, including a goal in each of the last three meetings.
Tampa Bay Lightning – Dwayne Roloson
Carolina Hurricanes – Cam Ward
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