Eric Staal tied the score with just 2.2 seconds left on the clock, but the Washington Capitals went on to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes in a shootout on Sunday night, 3-2. The two teams skated through a scoreless overtime period as Ian White had the best chance to end things when Sergei Samsonov fed him for an open, point blank chance, but Semyon Varlamov made the save to keep things tied up.
In the shootout, Jeff Skinner, Jussi Jokinen, and Tuomo Ruutu failed to light the lamp, but Alex Ovechkin made it look easy against Cam Ward for the game winner. The defeat marked the third shootout loss for the Canes in the last five games. For the season they are 1-3 in the skills competition, their only win coming in Helsinki.
It was another slow and ugly start for the Hurricanes as the Capitals jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the visitors knew what hit them. Eric Fehr took the puck away from Joni Pitkanen behind the net and fed it to an open Marcus Johansson who then beat Ward to make it 1-0 at the seven minute mark.
Then Ovechkin and Alexander Semin teamed up for a two-on-one break after Ian White had pinched. Tim Gleason was left alone on the play and he tried to play the pass, but Ovechkin fed the puck to Semin who made no mistake getting it past Ward, who was under siege most of the period.
The Caps out-shot the Canes, 17-7, out-chanced them, 8-2, and out-drew them in the faceoff circle, 12-3, in that opening period.
The Hurricanes came back immediately in the second as Eric Staal fed Erik Cole a nice pass after Cole had beaten Nicklas Backstrom to the front of the net.
But the score remained 2-1 until late in the contest when Staal tied it up as he got his stick on a loose puck during a mad scramble in the crease area.
The Canes fly back to Raleigh and will face the Dallas Stars on Monday night, another team who had the day off and will be well-rested for the contest tomorrow as the home team faces the second game of a back-to-back situation.
Quick Thoughts and Stats:
- Cam Ward had another overall strong game as he made 38 saves on 40 shots and did well to hold the Caps to just two goals in the flat opening period, but he continues to struggle in the shootout as he has throughout most of his career. This season he is currently ranked 24th in the league with a .625 save percentage during the competition.
- Jeff Skinner is the only Hurricane to score in a shootout so far this season. The rookie is 2-4.
- Carolina ended up with 28 shots on goal, led by Staal with seven.
- The Canes finished with a disappointing 41% result in the faceoff circle. Staal won 12 of 25 chances for 48%, including a huge draw at the end of regulation when he cleanly won the faceoff before the game tying goal. Tuomo Ruutu was 0-10 for the night.
- After that dead first period when they only were credited with 3 hits, the club finished with 20 hits for the game. Ruutu led the way with four.
- The team had 14 blocked shots led by Pitkanen and White with three each.
- Pitkanen had a game high 31:54 minutes of ice time, including one 2 minute plus shift where he couldn't (or wouldn't) leave the ice. That is certainly more time than the coaching staff would like to see and the defenseman looked slow at times. He also had a team high two giveaways but earned an assist on the game tying goal and now has a team high six game scoring streak.