“I’m sick and tired of giving up easy goals,” Caps forward Brooks Laich said. “We’re giving up goals where they don’t have to work to score and it’s killing us.”
As the Capitals started a five game homestand with high expectations, they had one of the best records at home in the league and with all the struggles on the road this season, they needed to pick up some wins at the friendly confines of Verizon Center before a real tough road schedule. Three points is all the Caps have after the first four games as a Brooks Laich goal with 2:52 left in the third period to send the game into overtime and get the Caps at least one point, before a two on one caused by another Caps defensive breakdown by Brandon Sutter and Justin Faulk put the Caps away in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Hurricanes.
“Turnovers, missed assignments. Just not playing the situation,” Laich said on their defensive woes. “Goals tonight [were] a breakaway goal, a two on one. Those are easy goals. If you’re going to give up goals, you want to make them work for it. Drive through guys and have to scramble to score goals. We can’t just let them shoot pucks at open nets. We hanged Michal [Neuvirth] out to dry. He’s got no chance.”
Neuvirth had 32 saves on the night, but made big save after big save just to keep the Caps in the game. Caps defenseman Dennis Wideman took blame for the Hurricanes third goal of the night when Brandon Sutter got a breakaway to give the Canes a 3-2 advantage and their third goal in a row. Wideman pinched on the play and realized it was “maybe a 50% play” and called his decision “stupid”.
“It was just a bad read,” Wideman said on the play. “Those are the plays that cost you playoff series, don’t let you get in the playoffs. It was just a bad play.”
The Caps though played another solid hockey game, besides the defensive lapses, for the most part. They put 49 shots on goal, seven by Brooks Laich, six by John Carlson and five by Alex Ovechkin and Jason Chimera but could only get three goals out of it, all goals from close in, as Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward made big save after big save.
“He played real well and the shots we did give up, he was real solid in the net,” Hurricanes Captain Eric Staal said on Ward. “He made some real key [saves] in the third period. We need him to be that for us to win games and tonight, he did and we were rewarded with a good win.“
The Caps had a good start for the first time on the homestand when Troy Brouwer beat Cam Ward on a backhand while following his own rebound to give the Caps a 1-0 lead just past halfway in the first period. The Caps added to it only 4:11 into when Jay Beagle got hit by a Dmitry Orlov shot and then put in the rebound for his first of the year to give the Caps a 2-0 advantage and all the momentum. But that didn’t last long when only forty seconds later the Hurricanes got a tic-tac-toe on an odd man rush ending with a Jiri Tlusty wide open net to kind of take the wind out of the Caps sails. The Canes tied it up less than four minutes later when Chad LaRose had an open net off a shot from Tim Gleason from the point that deflected off the boards, behind the net, and right onto LaRose’s stick.
At the end of the second period Jay Beagle just missed his second goal of the game when he had a wide open breakaway and beat Cam Ward, but the time ran out in the period about a second before Beagle’s backhand. Beagle though had one of his best games as he centered the third line and also helped shut down the Hurricanes top line all night.
“Well I gave him a big assignment against the [Eric] Staal line down the middle to give us some more offense up front with [Brooks Laich] moving up to the top line,” Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter said on Beagle. “And he did a good job. He’s a hard worker. ”
The Caps power play only had one opportunity on the night and the Caps are 2 for their last 35 on it. One key play happened just past the mid point in the second period when Dmitry Orlov pushed a linesman after an altercation with the Hurricanes Jeff Skinner and got a ten minute misconduct. Dale Hunter said he wasn’t give an explanation on why Orlov got the ten minute misconduct, but it caused the Caps to play with five men which included the Hurricanes third goal.
The Capitals (1-2-1 in their first four games on homestand) have one more game on the five game homestand as they host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday in what is as close to must-win as it get’s this time of year. The Caps are two points out of the final playoff spot in the East with one game in hand on the Winnipeg Jets, plus the Lightning are right on the Caps tails, only two points behind with the same number of games played, as they have seven home games in a row following their visit to DC.
“We’re making it really hard on ourselves going down the stretch here,” Wideman said. “We got to start winning some hockey games here or we’re going to have to swing together the last seven or eight of the season or something. We go to start winning.”
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin, Brooks Laich, Dennis Wideman, Jay Beagle & Troy Brouwer had to say following the loss.
1st 13:59 Brouwer (18), Aucoin (2)
2nd 4:11 Beagle (1), Orlov (11), Wideman (30)
3rd 17:08 Laich (12), Johansson (23), Carlson (22)
Dale Hunter Postgame Audio
Alex Ovechkin Postgame Audio
Brooks Laich Postgame Audio
Dennis Wideman Postgame Audio
Jay Beagle Postgame Audio
Troy Brouwer Postgame Audio