The Carolina Hurricanes were the recipients of a few good bounces last night and beat the Washington Capitals, 4-3. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about the win. But a couple of the goals scored by the Canes were fortunate, to say the least. A couple of possible goals by the Caps were waived off, one because it was kicked in, the other because it crossed the goal line a split second too late. That's just the way it goes sometimes.
Alexander Ovechkin started the scoring off in the 1st period on a beautiful shot right off of a faceoff just 2 seconds into a Caps powerplay. The Canes tied it later in the period when Eric Staal flung the puck to Cory Stillman. The puck bounced off of him and landed right at his feet. Then Cory was quick enough to slap it into the net. In the 2nd period, the Canes opened the scoring when Scott Walker jarred the puck loose from an unlucky Capital behind the Caps net. Ray Whitney gathered the puck and slipped a nice feed to Matt Cullen who was cutting through the slot area. Matt fired a nice shot that hit Kolzig, bounced in the air, and landed barely over the goal line as 2 Caps tried in vain to keep it out. Rod Brind'Amour scored the next goal as he deflected a Tim Gleason shot. The goal held up under review although it appeared from a distance that Rod's stick was a bit high. That made the score 3-1 Canes, but the Caps weren't finished yet!
Ovechkin scored another goal early in the 3rd period, once again making it a one goal game. A couple of minutes later, Brind'Amour took a loose puck behind the Caps net and flicked it at the back of Olaf Kolzig who had wandered a bit out of his crease. The puck bounced off Kolzig, then another Cap, and then somehow ended up in the net. That made the score 4-2. Finally Michael Nylander finished up the scoring on an open shot right in front of the Canes net, making the score 4-3. The Caps put plenty of pressure on the Canes in the final minute, but Cam Ward stood his ground and the narrow lead held up.
I thought the Capitals played a good game. They had more shots on goal than the Canes did, but part of the reason for that was because they blocked so many. Washington had 13 blocked shots in the 1st period alone while the Canes had 2. Carolina played a physical game. Scott Walker had several hits and looked more like himself. Surprisingly, Glen Wesley had a really tough hit on Ovechkin, which I would classify as the hit of the game. The Caps controlled the puck in the Hurricanes zone for long periods of time, and that is something that needs to be addressed. Also, as Peter Laviolette pointed out after the game, the team can't allow Michael Nylander, or anyone for that matter, to stand unimpeded in front of their net. All in all, the Hurricanes can feel good about winning a game in which they did not necessarily play their best hockey. They played well enough to win though and that's all that matters at the moment! Next up is Buffalo tonight at the HSBC. Things don't get any easier!