Hurricanes vs. Capitals: Ovechkin Must Take Control in Order for Caps to Win

Dilan AmesCorrespondent IFebruary 26, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 22:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates after scoring a goal in the third period against the Boston Bruins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on April 22, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

When the Carolina Hurricanes travel to the Verizon Center to take on the Washington Capitals tonight, it will be a pivotal game for both teams. 

The Caps are coming off of a huge victory over the Devils last weekend, in which star RW Alex Ovechkin had his first hat trick in two years. Caps Nation is certainly hoping that this big win over a good team will spark a turnaround of their less-than-impressive season. 

Ovi’s game against the Devils was also the first time in 11 months he's scored more than one goal. It is clear that his production has slowly been decreasing over the past few seasons, but with his apparent resurgence, Ovi could lead this team to the playoffs if he maintains this level of play.

Ovechkin likely suffered in the beginning of the season not only because of the coaching change, but also his switch from left wing to right wing. Now that he has had time to adjust, expect him to play more like his old self.

The Canes are also coming off of a big win vs. the Islanders in which Alexander Semin had a goal and two assists. With a large part of the season still left to be played, the Capitals will have a chance to cover some ground in the division and make a playoff push. 

In order for Washington to continue their recent success, it is imperative that Ovechkin gets going early. With two key defencemen for the Canes out with injuries (Jamie McBain and Joni Pitkanen), the door is wide open for Ovi to wreak havoc on the back end of Carolina’s defense. 

This game will also mark the return of Semin to the Verizon Center after the Caps didn’t re-sign him after last season. Semin has been playing well for Carolina as of late, and that is partially why they have had so much success on the road this season. 

Ovi’s shooting percentage has also been creeping up recently as he’s closing in on equaling his career average (11.9 percent). Ovi and the caps have also done well when shooting during power plays this season (20.7 percent) and only trail the Tampa Bay Lightning (22.1 percent) in that statistic. 

If the Capitals are to defeat the Hurricanes, then they will be on their way to making a playoff push as the season reaches its midway point.