The Carolina Hurricanes had a slow start but battled back to push the Washington Capitals to the limit before falling in overtime last night at the Verizon Center, 4-3.
Alexander Semin started things off just two minutes and change into the game as he got behind the Carolina defense and roofed a backhander past Manny Legace to make the score 1-0.
The Canes were able to draw a couple of penalties in the period, but the powerplay was abysmal as the team was unable to generate any offense at all while with the man advantage. The Caps nearly scored a couple of times, but Legace made some fine saves to keep his team in it.
Then Carolina took a couple of penalties and the Capitals were more than happy to take full advantage. Mike Green would score on their second chance to make the score 2-0 with 2:01 left in the period.
But the Hurricanes youth would come charging back.
Zach Boychuk got the puck to Jay Harrison, who had his first shot attempt blocked. But Harrison stuck with it and got the puck on net with his next try. Tom Kostopoulos took one whack at the rebound and Patrick Dwyer cleaned up the loose change to put the Canes right back into it. The opening period ended, 2-1.
The Hurricanes were battling hard in the second period and were rewarded when Chad LaRose stole the puck in the Washington zone. LaRose faked a shot, then passed to Tuomo Ruutu who buried his blast, to tie the score.
But the Caps came right back again as Mike Green scored yet another powerplay goal to give the home team back the lead.
Once again, the Canes continued to fight hard. They finally connected on a powerplay chance of their own when Ruutu found Jussi Jokinen, and the Finn managed to slip one by Jose Theodore to tie the score. Joni Pitkanen, who had over 30 minutes of TOI for the game, also picked up an assist on the play.
Surprisingly, the underrated Jokinen continues to lead the Hurricanes in goals, (27) and total points, (54).
Both teams continued to generate chances in the third period, but both goalies made several nice saves and regulation ended with the score tied, 3-3.
With just 1:40 left in the extra period, Eric Belanger found an open Tomas Fleischmann, and the "The Flash" was able to get his one-timer past Manny Legace for the win.
After the slow start, the Hurricanes really battled and it turned out to be a very entertaining game which could have easily gone either way. Hopefully, the team will still have some energy in the tank because things do not get any easier as they take on the Penguins at the RBC tonight.
- Brian Pothier had a great game in a losing cause. The defenseman made play after play in his own zone to help give his new team a chance. He ended up with over 26 minutes of ice time, had four shots on goal, and three blocked shots in the effort.
- The Canes finished with 23 blocked shots led by Tim Gleason who had five. The Olympian was stung badly at one point, but shook off the pain came back out on the ice.
- The youngsters really showed their stuff. Zach Boychuk was all over the ice and did not even back down to Alex Ovechkin as they went man-to-man at one point in the third. Patrick Dwyer had four hits to go along with his goal. Even newbie, Oskar Osala played pretty well with just 6:46 of ice time.
- Team leaders, Eric Staal and Ray Whitney created several chances but could not capitalize. Both players might be on the brink of a slump as Staal has not scored a goal in nine games and Whitney has not registered a point since trade deadline day, (three games).
- Manny Legace had several great stops but had trouble handling the puck at times during the game. He ended up making a very solid 35 saves on 39 shots.
- Tuomo Ruutu finished with a goal, an assist, and led the team with six hits.
- The Caps had 39 shots on goal, missed the net 18 times, and had 23 shots blocked by the Canes, for a total of 80 shots. The Hurricanes had 31 shots on goal, missed the net 12 times, and had 11 shots blocked for a total of 54 shots. It is really tough to limit the Washington shot total, but that is what makes them such a dangerous team, constant pressure.
The Hurricanes have canceled their pregame skate and are not expected to take the ice Thursday morning. They are hoping to be rested up and ready to take on the Penguins, who have been waiting for them in Raleigh.
We will have the game preview posted with the latest news along with any updates around lunchtime.