Game Analysis: Hurricanes At Capitals

Jeff Skinner’s teammates surround him after he won the game with his overtime goal, his third tally of the night. - Rob Carr

The Carolina Hurricanes completed their D.C. sweep of the Washington Capitals Thursday, beating the Caps 4-3 to win their third and final game at Verizon Center this regular season.

Jeff Skinner recorded his second hat trick of the season, capping it off with the overtime game-winner, to lead the Hurricanes to a 4-3 win Thursday at Washington. Manny Malhotra also scored, and Anton Khudobin improved to 3-0 on the year with his first win since Oct. 10.

Three Observations

1. Carolina’s goaltender situation remains murky. Cam Ward is hurt (again), and in his first game back since October, Anton Khudobin was good between the pipes. For as well as Justin Peters played while serving as Carolina's de facto No. 1, he is still just 3-4-3 since Nov. 16 and has allowed 11 goals in his past three outings. While Ward’s out, the team will surely hold on to all three, but if Khudobin can maintain the early season form he showed Thursday — he still hasn't lost as a member of the Hurricanes — Peters will remain the most likely to depart.

2. John-Michael Liles’ Carolina debut was uneventful, which is good news for a defenseman who has played little in the NHL this year. Yes, the team will need Liles to be a factor moving the puck up the ice and on special teams going forward. But for his first game with the Canes, Liles skated off the ice unscathed and left most with a "OK, let's see what he does this weekend" taste in their mouth.

3. The Hurricanes took just one penalty in the game, Rob Hainsey's holding minor 1:20 into the game, and are taking the third fewest penalties in the NHL at 8.7 per game. That’s a recipe for success against the Capitals, who have scored on a quarter of their power play opportunites this year, second only to Pittsburgh by a half percent. Couple that with Skinner’s 5-on-3 goal to open the scoring, and the Canes won the special teams battle in the most practical way — by taking advantage of their big opportunities and not allowing Washington any.

Number To Know

2 — Points for Malhotra, his first multi-point game since March 14, 2011, when he had two assists against the Minnesota Wild in a 4-2 Canucks win. It was in his next game, March 16, 2011, against Colorado, that Malhotra would suffer the eye injury that threatened his career.

Plus

Jeff Skinner — Who else? The kid is absolutely killing it right now. Skinner has 16 goals in his last 16 games — including seven in his last five and five in his last two — and is currently a point-per-game player with 30 in 30 games.

Minus

Ron Hainsey — Hainsey saw a lot of Alex Ovechkin Thursday — the Caps captain finished with a goal — and also was on the ice for two more goals, one where he seemed to lose Troy Brouwer to tie the game at 2 in the second period. While it wasn't Hainsey's best night, he still helped limit Ovechkin to one point.

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