Carolina dropped another one-goal game, allowing a late goal to fall to Washington at home, 2-1, on Thursday.
1. Plainly put, Anton Khudobin needs more goal support. But that doesn't absolve him from blame on Carolina’s first goal. Yes, defenseman Michal Jordan’s mistake was the biggest blunder on the opening tally, but Khudobin's inablilty to control the rebound — a problem that was evident throughout the beginning of the game and often for him this season — ultimately led to Beagle’s goal. No, the team shouldn't expect to win scoring just once, but the combination of mistakes set a poor tone for the night.
2. It was good to see the Hurricanes engage in a physical game with the Capitals. From hits going both ways to Nathan Gerbe’s shoving match with Karl Alzner, Carolina played with as much grit as they have all season. Four Hurricanes were credited with at least three hits, and all but one (Victor Rask) showed up on the hit list.
3. Riley Nash’s hot start has cooled considerably. And it's not just about his turnover that led to the game-winning goal — Nash has now gone five games without a point. He has taken a minor penalty in each of the past two games — his first two of the season — and overall has not been playing at the level he was in the season’s first 20 games. This has been mentioned before but Rask and Nash are essentially playing for the post-January third line center job, since Jordan Staal will slide in as a top-six pivot, so every game matters.
Number To Know
79 — Power play opportunities in 25 games for Carolina this season after receiving none vs. Washington Thursday. That ranks 22nd in the NHL, a stark drop for a team that usually ranks near the top of the league in penalties drawn. Since the lost 2004-05 season, Carolina has led the league in power play opportunities four out of nine seasons and never ranked lower than 12th. All but two of those years the Hurricanes ranked in the top five. The drop in power play chances makes it more difficult to score goals, especially on a team with troubles scoring at even strength, but it's particularly crippling this season with the Carolina power play ranking ninth in the NHL at 21.7 percent.
Alexander Semin — It wasn't just that Semin finally scored his first goal of a thus far frustrating season, or the fact that the goal tied a close-checking game against the team that drafted him. It was Semin’s reaction to the goal, a triumphant fist pump, followed by a bear hug by linemate Jiri Tlusty, that was the best moment of Thursday’s game. The singular cat calls yelled at Semin — there has never really been a chorus of boos from the PNC crowd — throughout the season with each indecisive play or turnover were replaced with a deafening roar, one that usually isn't made by a scant announced crowd of 10,783. Both the players and the crowd were thrilled to see the monkey come off No. 28’s back. And while it was just one night — and a loss, at that — Semin recaptured the support of the Hurricanes fans Thursday. With some luck, maybe he even rediscovered his confidence along the way.
Michal Jordan — Jordan has been reliable in his brief NHL stints, but Thursday’s outing was clearly his worst. His offensive zone stumble in the first period led to Washington’s first goal, a Jay Beagle tap in on a Jason Chimera rebound. Chimera, one of the NHL’s best skaters, wasn't done: he consistently tested Jordan’s foot speed, and the Hurricanes rookie defender came out on the losing end several times.