Game Analysis: Capitals At Hurricanes

Eric Staal slides the puck between Capitals goalie Michael Neuvirth's leg for a shorthanded goal Monday at the RBC Center. It was the first of two goals for Staal, who had three points and pushed his point streak to six games. (Photo by Jamie Kellner)

In what could be deemed their best performance of the season, the Carolina Hurricanes thoroughly overwhelmed the Washington Capitals en route to a 5-0 lambasting Monday at the RBC Center. Eric Staal scored twice, and Justin Faulk, Anthony Stewart and Andreas Nodl all added goals for Carolina. Justin Peters earned his first NHL shutout, stopping all 17 shots he faced.

The Canes improved to 23-26-11, tying Buffalo for 14th in the Eastern Conference with 57 points. They are eight points behind division-leading Florida, but the Panthers have two games in hand, and seven points out of eighth place in the conference.

Three Observations

1. Faulk notched his fourth power play goal of the season Monday, tying him for eighth in the NHL in man-advantage tallies with a large group of players that are mostly considered All-Stars. His total is also tied for the 10th-most by a defenseman in Hurricanes' history, and he's done it in just 44 games. Toss in a fight with the much bigger Troy Brouwer, and Faulk had quite the Calder candidacy statement game.

2. How good has Staal been the past two weeks? Only Ottawa's Jason Spezza has more points (15 to Staal's 11), and Staal's plus-9 the past 14 days is tied with Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis for the best in the NHL during that stretch. He also has just two penalty minutes in the past 14 games, a good sign as Staal is usually more apt to take bd penalties when he is struggling.

3. Congratulations to Peters on his first NHL shutout, but the credit belongs to the entire team for the effort Monday night. Other than a couple good chances, Washington was shut down by Carolina and managed just 17 shots — and only one in four minutes of power play time. The credit doesn't go solely to the Canes, as the Capitals look absolutely lost right now, but it was easily clear who the better team was on the ice.

Number To Know

2 — Goalies other than Cam Ward who have recorded shutouts since Ward became the team's official No. 1 netminder in 2006-07. Manny Legace stopped all 27 shots on March 7, 2010, win over Atlanta, and Peters became the second with his 17-save effort Monday.

Plus

Eric Staal — It's hard not to give it to Peters, who earned his first NHL shutout, but Staal was a man among boys again. The captain had two goals — including his franchise-record 12th career shorthanded tally — and an assist, pushing his point streak to six games, and was plus-3 for the second time in four games. Not only is he well out of the NHL basement in plus/minus, but he blew past Chad LaRose (minus-18) and is now just minus-15 on the year.

Minus

Derek Joslin — Many will applaud Joslin's willingness to engage Matt Hendricks twice, but really the Hurricanes had nothing to gain and plenty to lose with Joslin dropping the gloves. Furthermore, he earlier took an undisciplined elbowing penalty in the second period when the game was 3-0 that could have given the Capitals the spark they sorely needed. Instead, Staal put the game away with his shortie, but that doesn't absolve Joslin from taking the infraction.

Miscellaneous News

The Hurricanes have reassigned goalie Mike Murphy to the AHL's Charlotte Checkers. Here's the release from the team:

‘CANES REASSIGN MIKE MURPHY TO CHARLOTTE

Goaltender served as backup last night against Washington

RALEIGH, NC – Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has assigned goaltender Mike Murphy to the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL). Murphy served as backup to Justin Peters on Monday night against the Washington Capitals.

This completes the second NHL recall for the 23-year-old Murphy. The Kingston, Ont., native is 15-11-1 with a 2.71 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage in 29 games for the Checkers this season. He made his NHL debut earlier this season when he played in relief of Cam Ward on Dec. 6 at Calgary, and became the first goaltender in NHL history to record his first NHL loss before allowing his first NHL goal. The Hurricanes’ sixth-round selection (165th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Murphy has a career record of 46-31-3 with a 2.65 goals-against average in 88 career AHL games with Albany and Charlotte.

Prior to turning professional, Murphy (5’11", 172 lbs.) completed four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with Belleville, establishing Bulls regular-season franchise records for career wins (85), shutouts (8), goals-against average (2.42) and save percentage (.929). He was a two-time OHL All-Star, and was named Goaltender of the Year for the entire Canadian Hockey League (CHL) in 2008-09, after posting career-bests in wins (40), goals-against average (2.08), shutouts (5) and save percentage (.941), all of which were franchise records.

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