RALEIGH, N.C. | Not by choice but by injury this time, the Washington Capitals are seeing another backup goaltender on Monday night. Starter Cam Ward got hurt Saturday night, so Justin Peters will be in net for another critical road game.
“The goaltender we face is irrelevant,” veteran right wing Mike Knuble said. “The records speak for themselves: We want to get the first goal; it just makes it so much easier.”
The Caps are 6-11-2 when allowing the first goal on the road, so they know the importance of scoring early. They likely won’t change much against Peters.
And neither will Carolina, despite the noticeable drop-off from 2006 Conn Smythe winner Ward to the 25-year-old Peters, who has only appeared in four of the Hurricanes’ 59 games this season.
Peters is 1-3-0 with a 3.65 goals-against average and .911 save percentage, but he has been seeing an average of over 33 shots a game.
“Obviously I think we still have a lot of faith in Petey back there,” Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk said. “He’s been around, he’s played games before, he knows what he’s doing, so I think we’re going out there with the same style we would no matter what.”
Peters entered Saturday night’s game at the New York Islanders in relief of Ward, who suffered what the team is calling a “lower-body” injury. Peters beat the Sharks on Friday night.
But that was his first game action since Jan. 7, though Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller lauded Peters’ improved maturity.
“It’s a tough position to be in when you’re a goalie opposed to a player, a guy that hasn’t played much, you want that adrenaline, you want to see that energy in the game and early on,” Muller said. “That’s the toughest thing for a goalie that’s backing up is to be ready and be ready when you get the call. But also you’ve got to keep the level-keel.”
Facing Peters is the Caps’ problem Monday night, but getting Ward back is a priority for last-place Carolina.
“We’ll just assess it day-to-day,” Muller said. “Hopefully we get him back for Anaheim [on Thursday].”