The Carolina Hurricanes never gave up in this game and battled the Washington Capitals right to the end before losing in overtime, 4-3 on Saturday night at the Verizon Center.
Jussi Jokinen tied the score with just 1:29 left on the clock as he kicked a Jeff Skinner pass to his stick and lifted the puck over Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth. But he would be called for a holding penalty in overtime which would give the Capitals a 4-on-3 powerplay and they would take full advantage of it as Mike Green blasted a shot through Brian Boucher for the game winner at 2:24 into the extra period.
For the second straight game, the Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead, this time in the second period on a picture perfect powerplay goal by Eric Staal. Jokinen set up the captain with a nice cross ice pass and Staal hit the upper corner of the net for the team's first PP goal of the season.
It took the Caps just two minutes and change to tie things up though when Alexander Semin got behind the Carolina defense and beat Boucher with a nifty backhander. Tomas Kaberle took the puck down low, and no one was aware enough to drop back and cover for him. Semin didn't hesitate to jump into the open when he saw his chance and John Carlson hit him with the pass.
Just 21 seconds before the end of the period, a similar play happened, although this time Tuomo Ruutu dropped back to cover for Kaberle, but Jason Chimera skated by Ruutu like he was standing still and beat Boucher again to give the home team the lead.
Staal would strike again during an early third period powerplay as he took a pass from Skinner and squeezed ithe puck past Neuvirth. But the Canes would be snake-bitten for the second straight night during a 5-on-3 disadvantage.
After Joni Pitkanen was slew footed by Matt Hendricks, (and left the game for a short period with no call) he was called for boarding when he nudged Mike Knuble into the glass. Then Alex Ovechkin drew a tripping call as he sprawled across the ice when Brandon Sutter tried to cover him.
Brooks Laich would then score during the two man advantage.
After Jokinen tied the score with his dramatic goal, Semin would board Bryan Allen, giving the Canes the advantage starting off OT, but they just missed on multiple tries. Green would then get the game winner to finish things off.
The Canes will take Sunday off before an afternoon game in Jersey on Monday.
- It's hard to complain about the team's effort in this one. This was a complete, gritty effort which hopefully the players can build on.
- Brian Boucher played very well for the most part. He probably wants that game winner back, (although it might have been deflected), but he made several solid saves and looked cool and steady all night between the pipes. He ended up making 32 saves on 36 shots.
- Staal had a nice rebound game after the opening night debacle. He had two goals, one assist, and six shots on goal. He also stepped up for teammate Allen after Semin boarded him.
- Skinner also had a three point night, with three assists. Jokinen had a goal and an assist.
- The club was credited with 29 hits led by Gleason, Faulk, Tlusty, Pitkanen, and LaRose with three each.
- Giving credit where credit is due, coach Paul Maurice called a time out, drew up a play, and pulled the goalie right before the game tying goal. For better or for worse, he also changed up the lines to start the third. (Skinner, Staal, LaRose - Ruutu, Jokinen, Stewart - Dwyer, Sutter, Poni - Tlusty, Brent, Dalpe.) The defensive pairings were mixed and matched.
- The team finished up winning 46% of their draws. (Staal 41%, Sutter 60%, Jokinen 33%, and Brent 56%.)
- Carolina had 31 shots on goal to 36 for Washington and had 17 scoring chances to 20 for the Caps.
- What's frustrating when you play the Caps is that Hurricanes work and work and work and finally get a goal, and then Washington will just score an easy one when the Canes make a mistake. It seems to happen time and again.
- It was a tough night for the officials as they missed the obvious slew foot on Hendricks, but called a couple of tick tacks on the Canes, especially the holding on Jokinen in OT. It does not look like Carolina will be getting called for the fewest penalties in the league again this season.
- The Canes went 2-4 on the PP while the Caps went 2-5.