The Capitals took a beating from the Hurricanes tonight at the Verizon Center to give them their first back-to-back loses at home this season. The Canes scored a penalty shot goal, 2 short-handed goals, an even-strength goal, and a powerplay goal. Jose Theodore took a seat with the flu tonight as Michal Neuvirth recorded his first loss as an NHL goalie. Tom Poti also sat out with a groin injury as well as Michael Nylander who missed his 4th game in a row and could be on the trading block.
Off the first shift, Alex Ovechkin gained the zone and pulled up to give Alex Semin a nice pass right in front. Semin would miss an empty net after putting a backhand over the crossbar. Washington’s defense struggled throughout the game and gave up almost 15 giveaways in the first compared to Carolina’s 1 giveaway. The last giveaway of the period proved to be costly for the boys in red.
Eric Staal of the Canes broke free and was hauled down by Shaone Morrisonn to give the Eastern Conference all-star a penalty shot. Staal ripped a wrist shot over an almost stand-still Neuvirth, and continued behind the net, jumping into the glass with an OV-like celebration.
The 2nd period was just absolutely brutal as the Caps let up 4 goals including 2 short-handed goals by Matt Cullen and Patrick Eaves. The lack of effort continued as Carolina controlled most of the play and won most of the 1-on-1 battles. Brooks Laich thought the team lacked effort compared to their division foe.
“They just outworked us,” said Laich. “I don’t care what you say about talent and everything, this game is about heart. The team that works the hardest is usually the team that’s going to win. Tonight, they wanted it more and that’s not easy to sit here and say.”
The only Caps player playing with any umph was Alex Semin, and he capitalized with a spectacular goal from his knees with only 3 seconds left in the period.
Cam Ward continued to shutdown any chance of a Capital comeback as he pounced on numerous shots allowing minimal rebound opportunities. Alex Semin continued to play well giving Sergei Fedorov a one-timer goal from the slot with just under 2 minutes to go.
The Caps have only lost 3-games in a row twice this season and are not looking good in March after going 9-3-1 in February. Alex Semin has 8 points in his last 4 games with 4 goals and 4 assists.
* Matt Cullen *
** Patrick Eaves **
*** Cam Ward ***