The Carolina Hurricanes have not had the best of luck in previous home openers and Wednesday night was not much different as they dropped a close game to the Washington Capitals, 3-0. The Caps jumped out to a 1-0 lead midway through the first period when David Steckel fell on Cam Ward taking him out of the play, enabling Matt Hendricks to knock in his first goal of the year.
The Hurricanes argued that the goal should not count, but the refs had determined that Ward initiated the contact and they allowed the goal to stand. Paul Maurice still did not agree with the call after the game. The goal was huge because it was a very tight contest for most of the night.
Nicklas Backstrom would score the next goal at 12:23 into the third when he flicked a rare Cam Ward rebound in the net, making the score 2-0. Ward made a couple of remarkable saves earlier in the game, one time stacking the pads on Mike Knuble at point blank range and another time stopping Alex Ovechkin when he had a step on the defense.
Backstrom would score again on an empty netter to close things out.
The Hurricanes timing seemed a bit off here and there and Maurice said that the team could have been a step slow because of the lag some suffer from after returning from a long road trip. Still, the Canes generated a few nice chances but just missed connecting. Eric Staal hit the post on one good chance and Michal Neuvirth made a pretty glove save on another.
It was an odd night in that the original stat sheets which were provided to the press after the game were incorrect. I have no confidence that the updated ones are correct either.
According to the Event Summary:
- Eric Staal won 57% of his faceoffs, (13-23) and Tuomo Ruutu won 50%, (9-18). Brandon Sutter had a rough night and was 4 of 16 for 25%. As a team, the Canes won 41%.
- The final summary sheet has Zac Dalpe and Drayson Bowman only playing two shifts each for the entire game. But my stat sheet for the end of the second period has Dalpe with 5 shifts at 3:14 of ice time and Bowman with 6 shifts at 3:28. Whichever one is accurate, that's not much ice time for the rookies.
- The Canes had 20 blocked shots led by Jamie McBain who had 6.
- Cam Ward made 30 saves on 32 shots.
- The team put 29 shots on Neuvirth, led by Staal with 6. Chad LaRose was next with 5.
Did tonight seem familiar? Carolina lost last year's opener to Ray Emery and the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-0. The club has only won two times out of the past eight tries on opening night.
The Hurricanes will not skate on Thursday and are scheduled to leave for New York in the afternoon. They have a tough back-to-back coming up with a match against the Rangers on Friday night followed by another test at home on Saturday, this time against the Penguins.