It was another game where an inept powerplay and an untimely huge mistake ended up costing the Carolina Hurricanes a much needed point or two as the Washington Capitals defeated the Hurricanes, 2-1 at the Verizon Center on Friday night.
Carolina's powerplay not only went 0-5, but the team had continual trouble just gaining possession in Washington's zone while with the man advantage. Hopefully, a team can at least build some offensive momentum while on a powerplay, even if they don't score, and then have that momentum carry forward at even strength. But Carolina's powerplay seems to take away momentum from their 5-on-5, which looked good at times this night.
The game-winning goal by Washington happened because of a combination of bad plays. First, Tim Gleason took a shot from the point of the powerplay which was blocked. The puck bounced out to Jason Arnott, who just came out of the penalty box, and he skated in alone on Cam Ward with Gleason and Jay Harrison in hot pursuit.
Ward made a beautiful save on Arnott's move, but Gleason and Harrison were not watching Matt Hendricks on the play who was following and Hendricks easily knocked in the rebound.
After the game, Paul Maurice said the poor coverage on the play was "inexcusable."
The Hurricanes outshot the Capitals in each and every period and controlled play for large chunks of time in the Washington zone, (at even strength). They ended up with 41 shots compared to 26 for the Caps, but rookie goalie Braden Holtby looked sharp and made an NHL career high 40 saves to earn first star of the game honors.
The Canes got on the scoreboard first late in the second period when Tuomo Ruutu skated the puck patiently in the slot area and waited until he had a clear look at the net. He beat Holtby high blocker side with Eric Staal creating havoc in the crease.
Up to that point, the Hurricanes had been 21-0-0 when having a lead after two periods, but that impressive streak would be broken on this night.
Just 47 seconds into the third period, Alex Ovechkin took what looked like a harmless wrist shot from almost the blueline. But the puck either hit something or Ward misjudged it because the goalie went down as the puck went over his shoulder to tie the game.
Then it was a back and forth contest for a bit until the major gaffe at 7:24 when Hendricks scored to put the home team up 2-1. After that, Carolina was even more desperate and held play in the Washington zone for long periods. Still, they could not solve Holtby.
Staal missed a semi open chance with about five minutes left. You could see him smashing his stick on the bench in frustration afterward.
There was another play when Holtby went to freeze the puck, and it bounced free in front of him. The ref blew the play dead just before Jay Harrison put the loose change in the net. While it was a horrid goof up by the official, in fairness, the Caps stopped playing when the whistle was blown so there is no telling if the Canes would have scored there. Still, the puck was obviously loose and it would have been a great chance.
And that play pretty much told the story of the game. It was not going to be Carolina's night.
The team returned home right after the game and will take on Columbus in the second game of their back-to-back at the RBC Saturday night. Columbus lost at home to Los Angeles, 4-2, before they had to travel and will also be working on a back-to-back.
Quick Stats and Thoughts:
- It's simple. If the Canes can not improve it, the inept powerplay is going to cost this team the playoffs. They only managed three shots on net during their entire time with the advantage.
- Jamie McBain left the game early holding his (arm/forearm/wrist). He did not return, officially because of an "upper body injury". Looks like Derek Joslin might have a shot to play on Saturday night. The Canes played the rest of the night with five defensmen and held up pretty well, except for the huge gaffe that let in the game winner.
Joe Corvo played a game high 29:36. He had five shots on goal and had his shot blocked a game high seven times. That was not a typo. His shot was blocked seven times.
- Erik Cole led the team with seven shots on goal. Ruutu was tied with Corvo with five.
- The Caps blocked a total of 26 shots.
- The Canes were credited with 18 hits. Ruutu led the way with seven.
- The fourth line got minimal time. Troy Bodie played 4:10, Pat Dwyer, 8:14, and newly recalled Drayson Bowman played 5:00.
post game interviews: