Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes Pick & Prediction JANUARY 5th 2024

The Carolina Hurricanes have found their stride, and it has been an impressive stretch. “Just take the best things we did (in recent games) and move those things to the next game and just keep it going,” Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov said of the approach. That’s the plan that the Hurricanes will try to implement against the host Washington Capitals Friday night. Carolina holds a four-game winning streak and has secured at least a point in 10 of its past 11 games. “We’ve just got to keep plugging along and see where we are at the end of the year,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. The Capitals, who have lost five of their past six games (1-3-2), will play the second game of a five-game homestand after Wednesday night’s 6-3 loss to New Jersey Devils. That game included the Washington debut of veteran winger Max Pacioretty, who was coming off an injury from last season when he played for the Hurricanes. “There’s a lot of emotions,” Pacioretty said. “I’ve played five games in almost two years, so yeah, a lot of emotions.”

It’s bound to take time for Pacioretty. “It’s going to be a work in progress,” Capitals coach Spencer Carbery said. “It’s going to be a process for him getting back up to speed and get comfortable playing games.” Things have fallen into place for the Hurricanes the past few weeks after a rough Western trip. The turnaround has allowed the momentum to grow. “We’re confident,” Carolina defenseman Brady Skjei said. “We’ve got some elite guys that can score, so they’re obviously doing their job right now.” The offense has been sparked largely by Sebastian Aho, the NHL’s reigning “First Star” of the week, and Svechnikov. They’ve combined for 24 points in the past five games. “They’ve been dominant,” Skjei said. “I don’t think there’s any way else to put it. They’ve been our best players and they’ve been on fire the last week or so. It’s fun to watch and try to get them the puck.” Brind’Amour said he hasn’t seen a major change in either player, figuring they’re benefiting from their diligence. “We’ve got great players,” Brind’Amour said. “They’re kind of getting rewarded, really. Lately they’ve been going in.” The Hurricanes will try to complete a perfect three-game road swing, following a 6-1 win Tuesday night against the New York Rangers. “It gives you confidence whenever you score first and we just rolled from there,” Svechnikov said. Special teams have given the Hurricanes big boosts during their hot streak. “We’ve certainly come together in that department,” Brind’Amour said. “It has been a good stretch.” A good first 40 minutes wasn’t extended to the third period for Washington in the New Jersey game. “Just too many mistakes and not much of a push at the end,” Carbery said. “We didn’t have much of a push and that’s really disappointing.” Aside from Pacioretty, the Capitals will have former Carolina defenseman Ethan Bear, who recently signed a two-year contract. Washington posted a 2-1 road shootout victory against Carolina on Dec. 17. Aho scored Carolina’s only regulation goal, while Martin Fehervary scored for Washington. –Field Level Media

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