Alex Ovechkin and Jason Arnott both made their returns, but it wasn’t enough to power the Capitals by the desperate Carolina Hurricanes as they fall 3-2 in a shootout at Verizon Center. It was the Caps first home game in 16 days and you could definitely tell it took a little while for the guys in red to get going. Bruce Boudreau said at times the Caps looked “lackluster” out there and they had to be on their games tonight because this was a must win game for the Hurricanes.
After a first period which the Caps led on shots 16-11 and both goalies made some really nice saves, the Hurricanes got on the board first only 2:29 into the second when on the power play Jussi Jokinen got a perfect pass from Joe Corvo and put it in a pretty empty net. Almost 10 minutes later the Hurricanes had a great chance to make it 2-0 when on the penalty kill Chad LaRose had a breakaway and Dennis Wideman tapped his hand from behind and a penalty shot was called. LaRose missed the penalty shot and the Caps took the momentum back. Two minutes later Alexander Semin, from a bad angle, beat Cam Ward high for his 27th of the season to tie it up and a few minutes after that Marcus Johansson took it to the net and beat Ward to give the Caps their first lead of the game and his 13th of the season. The Caps led 2-1 to the third and led on shots 28-20, but late in the second Tuomo Ruutu hit Dennis Wideman at a bad angle and Wideman limped off the ice and didn’t return. Boudreau said after the game he is day to day.
The Hurricanes took back the momentum 1:46 into the third when Jeff Skinner beat Semyon Varlamov from the side and it kind of hit Varlamov and went in. Definitely a bad goal by Varlamov and afterward Bruce Boudreau said that the goalies have been really good for them all season and they should be able to pick them up when they give up at bad one. The Caps didn’t though as they were held scoreless then rest of the period and overtime. Late in the third Alexander Semin took a penalty that Boudreau called “dumb” and the Caps had to be on the penalty kill till 1:19 remaining in the third. Semin was benched the rest of the game, including a scoreless overtime on which the Caps out shot the Hurricanes 5-0. In the shootout both Tuomo Ruutu and Jeff Skinner scored while Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom missed, giving the Canes the win and two points they desperately needed.
The Caps are now 44-22-11, 99 points on the season and three points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for first in the Eastern Conference, the Flyers though have one game in hand. The Caps end up 5-0-1 against their Southeastern Division foe Hurricanes this season. Semyon Varlamov stopped 24 and is 10-9-5 on the season. The Caps were 0-3 on the power play and Alex Ovechkin said after the game,“We [Ovechkin and Jason Arnott] practiced with the team only one time. And we skated without the puck most of the time. In power play, we give so many chances to them to score goals, like on the breakaway, we make some mistakes. But we come back and it’s good when we come back. It’s good when you play that kind of game.”
The Caps stay at home for two more games, including hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets and former Capitals Captain Chris Clark on Thursday. The Caps are 18-0-1 when Semin scores a goal this season and 27-0-3 when leading after two periods. Check out what Bruce Boudreau, Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson & Marcus Johansson had to say following the game.
Bruce Boudreau Postgame Audio
Alex Ovechkin Postgame Audio
John Carlson Postgame Audio
Marcus Johansson Postgame Audio
Sky Kerstein is 106.7 The FAN’s Capitals Beat Reporter and co-host of “Morning Skate” every Sunday from 9am-10am on 106.7 The FAN. Also you can find video recaps of every Caps game and post-game interviews on www.1067thefandc.com. You can get in touch with Sky on Facebook or via Twitter at www.twitter.com/SkyKerstein.