WASHINGTON — The Carolina Hurricanes opened their first postseason in 10 years in Washington, D.C. but fell by a score of 4-2. The Canes answered the question early if they would be able to shift into an extra gear in the playoffs. They flew around the ice and earned the first seven shots of the game.
The Canes played well outside of the first period penalty kill, which let them down twice. They still generated more shots and drove possession for large portions of the game. It took eight minutes for the Capitals to earn their first shot on Petr Mrazek. Unfortunately, their second shot on goal found the back of the net. Nicklas Backstrom gained the zone and shot through Jaccob Slavin’s legs and beat Mrazek’s glove which didn’t even move.
The Canes were unable to swing momentum after the goal. Just three minutes later Justin Faulk was called for high-sticking after he made very solid and direct contact with Alex Ovechkin’s face.
With Brett Pesce in no man’s land between the man on the post and Ovechkin on the dot, Evgeny Kuznetsov was able to slot the puck to Backstrom who was on the doorstep to make it 2-0 just 30 seconds into the power play.
Three minutes later the Carolina was called for another penalty, this time Micheal Ferland with an interference penalty which gave the Caps the man advantage. The Canes lasted over a minute before Ovechkin was able to make it 3-0 after converting on a rebound that the defense could not clean up.
Heading into the second period, whatever Rod Brind’Amour said in the locker room worked. The Canes killed off their first penalty successfully and were able to take momentum. They were unable to convert on their own power play chance, but generated the majority of the chances in the period.
In the third, they were finally able to break through five minutes into the period with a goal from Svechnikov. He came down the boards and was able to cut to the middle and beat Braden Holtby far side. Svechnikov got into to the middle due to Lucas Wallmark driving to the net and occupying Christian Djoos.
Just three minutes later, Svechnikov scored a second goal, again with help from Wallmark. This time Wallmark had a slap pass across the slot to Svech who beat a stretching Holtby to make it 3-2 with over half of the third period left.
Despite being the Canes’ first playoff game in 10 years, they played well for most of it. The issue is that small mistakes added up and get out of control very quickly. Couple that with a pair of sputtering special teams units and this is the result.
The Canes could have easily fought back from a 1-0 deficit. However, it’s extremely hard to come back down 3-0 after two mistakes that put the most dangerous power play in the league on the ice twice in five minutes.
It’s also said that a series doesn’t start until the home team loses. Carolina outperformed the Caps in the final two periods including scoring two unanswered goals. They can build on that momentum for Saturday. If the Canes can come out without a bad first period in game two, they still have the chance to come back to Raleigh with home-ice advantage.
They Said it:
I think we came out hard and played good but we still have more in us. We have to keep playing our game. We know how the game starts now and we have to move forward and I think we can take a lot out of this game.
We played well and we just need to keep going. I think we played a pretty good game and we have to keep doing it. The have a great power play, but they have to be on the ice. When we have a power play we have to score.
That’s how we are all season long, we can take the confidence that we can play with this team into the next game. We have to work on special teams, they had two power play goals and we take pride in our PK and we have to do better at that.
You take the positives from it and you take it to the next game and the biggest positive is that we have a group in here that can play. They are the defending Champs, they are a good team and they won last year for a reason.
Obviously you can get down on yourself [for a slow start], but that’s not what this team does. We keep going and we keep playing our game. Other than special teams in the first period we had our chances and we stuck to our game.
Our special teams, in general, need to be better. Both the PK and power play weren’t good enough. In the end, I think 5-on-5 and the rest of the game was more or less us going and playing our game. But special teams have to be better if we’re going to want to win some games.
It was a strong first period, everything kind of went their way in the first and they came out strong. But I think if our PK was a little better off the start, a little more aware, including myself, I think we’d be in a different scenario. But give the guys credit, we did a good job bouncing back and working and playing our game.
We know that we can’t get frustrated against that team. They play a tight, defensive game, and they don't give you much. I thought we were still generating a lot, doing the things we do, in the second and third periods especially. I think we can build on that, and find a way to steal one in the second [game].
I thought we came out pretty good and I liked our first period. It is just unfortunate to get down three, but we started the first ten minutes way better than I thought we would be. It’s a tough game; we did a lot of good things, but obviously our special teams got us and that’s pretty much the whole story.
[Svechnikov] was struggling for two periods for sure, and he keeps playing and was able to get us back into the game. He did not look out of place and he took a big step in my opinion.
We opened up more than I would have liked to, but when you’re down 3-0 or 3-1 that’s OK. [Mrazek] kept us in the game and gave us a chance to come back through the end of the game. He was good and he made some big saves for us, and its certainly not his fault on any of the goals.
You need to take lessons. The guys are disappointed and they played hard. It’s about the execution and some of the things weren't great. We have a couple of guys that need to be better for sure if we are going to beat the best team. It’s a positive for me that we weren’t our best and still had a chance to win. We have to take some time and refresh the batteries to see how we can get better and win a game here and that’s the goal.
[On shuffling lines]: We will see. You have to shake something up. I thought we were playing OK, but we weren’t getting any action at the net. So we tried a few things; whether it sticks or not, I don’t know. We will have to evaluate it again. Obviously it worked and we got a jump but they were also sitting back. You know how it goes, they’re not really playing their game, and they don’t have to when they’re up three, so it’s hard to make a real evaluation.
The first [penalty kill] we talked about and there were things we were trying to do that we didn’t do on their goal. Then on our power play we did nothing that we wanted to do, so that is frustrating for me. Specially at this time of the year when we had an extra couple of days to talk about it, but give them credit: they did a good job on both of those situations.