Peters to start in goal for Canes; Sekera likely to play

Posted by Chip Alexander on December 3, 2013 

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Canes goalie Justin Peters and Andrej Sekera (4) stop the Ducks Dustin Penner (17) during the second periodat the PNC Arena in Raleigh.

CHRIS SEWARD — cseward@newsobserver.com

— Justin Peters will be in net and defenseman Andrej Sekera likely will play Tuesday as the Canes face the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center.

Cam Ward has been the starting goaltender the past five games, but Canes coach Kirk Muller said Tuesday he wanted to get Peters back in the mix and get a start. A final decision on Sekera will be made after the pregame warmup, Muller said.

"The intent is that he will be in and will be a player tonight," Muller said of Sekera, who has missed the past two games with an upper-body injury.

Muller said if Sekera is good to go, Mike Komisark likely would be in the lineup and that Ryan Murphy probably would be a healthy scratch. He said Komisarek has been "battling the past couple of games" and would give the Canes more size for the Caps.

Having Sekera back restores the top defensive pairings: Sekera and Justin Faulk, and Ron Hainsey and Brett Bellemore.

"Just the familiarity of everyone helps," Muller said. "The combinations were working well earlier with those groups."

Muller said goalie Anton Khudobin and defenseman Tim Gleason were both on the ice Tuesday morning. Gleason, he said, is "feeling better" and his status day to day.

"He made a big stride because I didn't think he was going to make this trip," Muller said. "But he jumped on and has improved over the last day or two."

The Canes did not have a morning skate Tuesday. Looking at the lines for the game, Muller said he would have Jeff Skinner on Eric Staal's line with Tuomo Ruutu -- a combination he used at times Sunday during the Vancouver game.

"I think it's more where we are right now, to create a little more offense," Muller said. "It's more, 'You're our top offensive guys and we're putting you together and you've got to find a way to get things done.'

"So we felt we'll balance our four lines and put those three together. There's no reason they can't get the job done offensively."

The other lines are expected to be: Jiri Tlusty-Jordan Staal-Pat Dwyer, Nathan Gerbe-Riley Nash-Elias Lindholm, and Drayson Bowman-Manny Malhotra-Radek Dvorak.

The Caps (14-11-2) have won their last two, against Montreal and the New York Islanders, after a 0-3-1 stretch. Alexander Ovechkin leads the NHL with 21 goals and has scored 44 goals in his last 48 regular-season games.

The Caps are 24-for-103 on the power play (23.3 percent), fourth-best in the NHL, although just 3-17 in the past six games.

"We've come in and played some good games here," Muller said. "The big thing is the power play. We've got to really compete. A lot of these games are one-goal games and the power play is so important and can make the difference. They have a potent power play. That's the No. 1 thing, to stay out of the box."

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