The Carolina Hurricanes return to the RBC Center didn't go as planned, with the Canes suffering a shutout at the hands of division rival Washington, 3-0. The loss evened Carolina's record at 4-4, with the team heading to the Big Apple for a Friday game against the Rangers, followed by a home game the next night against Pittsburgh.
Here are five observations from Wednesday's loss.
1. The 3-0 loss was eerily similar to last year's home opener, when Carolina fell to Ray Emery and the Flyers 2-0 at the RBC Center. Last year, the Canes gave up two quick goals — an occurrence that would become a bad habit during the Hurricanes’ early season struggles — in the beginning of the second period and were unable to crack Emery. Wednesday, it was rookie Michal Neuvirth who Carolina couldn't solve. Carolina had its chances, but the end result was a blanking.
2. Speaking of Neuvirth, he and Cam Ward engaged in an old-fashioned goaltender duel. The pair exchanged stellar stops throughout the game, but in the end it was the Czech rookie who came out on top. Ward deserves credit for his efforts — his only mistake came when he seemingly tried to blocker a Mike Knuble shot into the corner and instead redirected it right to the Caps’ Nicklas Backstrom, who buried the first of his two goals to give Washington a 2-0 lead — as he was again Carolina's best player.
3. When the "Mike Green For The Norris" campaign knocks on your door next spring, remember last night's game. Yes, Green is easing his way back into the lineup after missing some time with an upper body injury, but a Norris Trophy candidate should never be the worst player on the ice for his team any night. Green played
a sliver over 13 23 minutes and had two minor penalties, plus he was a non-factor on the Capitals’ power play and just looked out of sorts all night. Anyone can have an off game, but Green was dreadful.
4. On the Carolina side, Joe Corvo — assisted by Tim Gleason — was able to keep Alexander Ovechkin under control. That was the good news. The bad side to Corvo's game was any time the puck was on his stick. He is struggling immensely in the offensive zone, and the hesitant Corvo that fans have seen before has re-emerged. He had one moment in the third when he left loose on a slapshot (it was blocked), but otherwise he seemed tentative to shoot and on edge whenever he had the puck.
5. Traffic heading in to and out of the RBC Center was as bad as it ever has been. That includes events like Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. I'd like to chalk it up to first-game mistakes, but it seemed utterly disorganized. There's no reason a fan should arrive at the arena at 6:30 and miss the opening minute of a 7 p.m. game, then take another 30 to 40 minutes to get out of the parking lot.