With the win by the Capitals, the Metropolitan Division rivals split their season series with each other 2-2. Ilya Samsonov was strong in net for Washington, posting a 23-save shutout to get the win and the first shutout of Samsonov’s NHL career. Alex Ovechkin provided the offense for the Capitals Monday night, scoring twice in the opening period to get the game off on the right foot.
Petr Mrazek took the loss in net for Carolina, stopping 28 of 30 shots faced. The Canes had won three straight games coming into the contest Monday night, but came out flat against the Capitals. Carolina was out-shot 30-23 in the game, and didn’t have a ton of great looks at goal.
Special teams played a big role in this one, as the two teams combined to commit nine penalties. The penalty kill units came up big, as the Canes went 0 for 3 on the power play and the Capitals were just 1 for 6.
After an opening ten minutes that didn’t feature too many chances on either side, Ovechkin broke the ice with his 27th goal of the season and 685th of his career, moving him into sole possession of 11th place in NHL history ahead of Teemu Selanne. After carrying the puck into the offensive zone himself, Ovechkin passed it off to Tom Wilson, who threaded a pass back to Ovechkin in the slot. The veteran superstar fired a shot past Mrazek to give the Capitals an early lead.
The goal was the first allowed by the Canes in a little over 137 minutes of game time, as Carolina posted back-to-back shutouts over the weekend to wrap up a seven-game homestand.
Ovechkin struck again later in the first period, as he blasted a slapshot past Mrazek from the point. Jakub Vrana laid a pass off to Ovechkin, who unleashed one into the upper corner of the net to make it 2-0.
A big part of the Hurricanes’ struggles in the first period was Carolina’s inability to stay out of the penalty box. The Canes took four penalties in the opening period, and they were finally beaten late in the period on Ovechkin’s second goal.
The second period flipped the script on the penalty struggles, as the Capitals got sent to the box three times in the middle frame. The Canes, however, couldn’t capitalize on the advantages. Carolina put six shots on net during those three power plays, but couldn’t do anything to beat Samsonov.
The Canes had a huge penalty kill in the early stages of the third period to stay alive in the game, killing off nearly a minute of 5-on-3 hockey to keep the score at 2-0. Carolina defenseman Jake Gardiner was whistled for tripping to give the Capitals their fifth power play of the game. One minute and 15 seconds later, defenseman Dougie Hamilton was called for slashing to give Washington 45 seconds of a two-man advantage.
The Hurricanes’ penalty kill unit was strong in limiting Washington’s chances, shutting down the 5-on-3 and the remainder of the Hamilton penalty to give themselves a fighting chance to mount a comeback.
The Canes couldn’t muster much offensive production down the stretch to try and fight back into the game, as Washington continued to play sound hockey. Rod Brind’Amour opted to pull Mrazek with three minutes remaining in the game, but neither team was able to net a goal during that time.
Carolina will be back in action Thursday night in Columbus, as they take on the Blue Jackets in a Metropolitan Division matchup.