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NHL Stadium Series 2023 Preview: Capitals face in-form Hurricanes outdoors

The 13th edition of the outdoor NHL Stadium Series takes place on Saturday February 18th as the Carolina Hurricanes host the Washington Capitals at Carter-Finley Stadium.

The 56,919-seater venue is situated in North Carolina and is home to the State Wolfpack American Football team.

WhatWashington Capitals @ Carolina Hurricanes
WhereCarter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, North Carolina
When8pm ET, Saturday February 18th 
How to watchESPN+, Sportsnet 360, TVA Sports2, abc

Success story

The first Stadium Series took place in 2014 and consisted of seven teams participating in four games across three venues.

With the four contests attended by more than 213,000 people and the appetite continuing to be strong, the event has become a main stay in the NHL calendar ever since.

First time outdoors for hosts

The upcoming Stadium Series will be the Hurricanes' first appearance outdoors and it's one that they are openly excited about.

Washington have participated in three outdoor games and won all three, including their only appearance in the Stadium Series in 2018, uniquely against a Canadian opponent in the shape of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Carolina won't go into the event completely blind, though, with 11 of their active players having experienced playing outdoors with other teams.

Missing star

The 2023 Stadium Series will be missing its biggest star as Capitals Captain Alexander Ovechkin has been granted indefinite leave to deal with the passing of his father, Mikhail.

Thirty-seven-year-old Ovechkin leads Washington with 32 goals in 54 games this season and with 812 in his career, is second to Wayne Gretzky (894) for most in NHL history.

No other Washington player has scored more than 13 goals this season and that means they find themselves 20th in the league with an average of 3.04 goals per game.

Without Ovechkin's production, others are going to have to step up against a Hurricanes side which possess the offensive talents of Sebastian Aho (24 goals, 24 assists), Martin Necas (21 goals, 27 assists) and Andrei Svechnikov (19 goals, 27 assists).

For Washington this includes Yevgeni Kuznetsov (nine goals, 36 assists) and Dylan Strome (12 goals, 25 assists) plus the now healthy T.J. Oshie (11 goals, nine assists in 39 games) and Nicklas Backstrom (three goals, four assists in 14 games).

The Capitals are 23-22-3 in the 48 regular season games that Ovechkin has missed during his 18 NHL seasons.

Hurricanes currently blowing hot

Like Washington, Carolina found offense hard to come by in the first half of the NHL season, but despite a season-ending injury to Max Pacioretty, the Hurricanes have improved significantly moving up to 10th in the league with an average of 3.35 goals per games.

Both teams have a respectable defensive record, with the Hurricanes allowing 2.67 goals per game (seventh) and the Capitals 2.88 (13th), but the offensive edge has helped Carolina win each of the previous two meetings between the teams this season 3-2, including most recently on Valentine's Day.

That victory took their record in the last ten games to 8-1-1 while the Capitals are 4-6-0 and on a three-game losing run.

Related NHL News

NHL Stadium Series: All you need to know

NHL Season Update: Bruins remain in pole position

Similar special teams

The Hurricanes and Capitals have similar special teams numbers, with both penalty killing well, but searching for answers to get their powerplay firing more regularly.

The Hurricanes are 22nd in the NHL with a 19.9% powerplay and the Capitals lie just ahead in 21st at 20.4%.

In the most recent meeting, the Hurricanes went 1-1 while the Capitals were 0-3 and that goal by Carolina was the game winner and difference maker, proving the importance of the man advantage in what will likely be a tight contest again.

Plot twist possible

Carolina last won the Stanley Cup in 2009 when Capitals coach Peter Laviolette was their bench boss and Rob Brind'Amour, now head coach, was Captain.

Brind'Amour is +750 to lead the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup again in a coaching capacity and they stand a strong chance, they currently sit top of the Metropolitan Division, which they are -300 to win, and second in the overall standings.

Hoping the Stadium Series experience will be a breath of fresh air, the Capitals have fallen into a tie with the Florida Panthers for the second Wild Card spot into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference, with the New York Islanders one point behind.

And so, while the Stadium Series encounter will be one for Washington to savour, they can't afford to look past the two points as they aim to deliver on their +120 odds of extending their playoff appearance streak to nine seasons.

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