118 members of the Washington Capitals Fan Club were in the house at RBC Center in Raleigh to cheer on the team tonight. I sure hope they at least got some good Carolina bar-b-q on the trip, because the game was a total stinker in the form of a 3-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Capitals came out flat and sloppy from the first face off. In the opening minutes of the first period, a bad turnover almost led to an Andreas Nodl goal.
Rookies Tomas Kundranek and Dmitry Orlov were a risky defensive pairing but it was some of the veteran d-men making the most glaring errors. The highlight of the night was Matt Hendricks dropping the gloves with Derek Joslin with several juicy punches landed by both at the 15:07 mark. Hendricks has been the team’s sparkplug of late with four fights already this month, including one in each of the past two games.
The game’s first power play came midway through the first period when youngster Justin Faulk tripped Marcus Johansson, but it was Carolina who capitalized on the Caps’ man-advantage aafter John Carlson turned the puck over to Jussi Jokinen. Jokinen managed to break away to beat Vokoun for the short-handed goal at 12:43.
The boys got another shot at the power play when Tuomo Ruutu went to the box for high sticking. They almost experienced deja-vu all over again in the form of another shorty as Jiri Tlusty stole an errant puck; thankfully, Vokoun stopped him at the door.
Mike Knuble had two key opportunities early in the second, one on an empty net, but the Canes’ defense had his number. Meanwhile, Vokoun robbed Carolina wunderkind Jeff Skinner, on the following play.
Knuble took a penalty for holding at 6:17 but the penalty killers were successful in keeping the Canes off the board. At the 7:28 mark, another bad turnover gave Jokinen his second clear shot of the night that was quickly gloved by Vokoun.
Jeff Skinner had another stellar opportunity but the Caps’ net minder held fast. In the ensuing scramble, Dennis Wideman was called for interference. Jussi Jokinen took full advantage of the Caps’ failure to clear the puck and scored his second short-handed goal of the evening shortly before the second period horn.
The number of shots on goal didn’t increase much in the final stanza. Two of the better chances came from Cody Eakin, who pinged the post early on, and Carlson, who was stopped by Cam Ward.
The Caps were called for too many men in the waning minutes (seven men to be exact) and Carolina went to the power play. As Vokoun tried to stop (or trip) Jiri Tlusty, it backfired on him for the Canes’ final goal.
Despite a flurry of action in the final minutes of the third period, the Capitals averaged a measly seven shots a period. And it was not Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin or Marcus Johansson, but Hendricks who led the team in shots in tonight’s stinker.
The Hurricanes came into this game in last place in the Eastern Conference. But it was Eric Staal (with 2 assists) and crew that brought the energy to outshoot and outskate the lifeless Capitals.
The inconsistent play on the part of Washington continues, much to the dismay of the Caps’ faithful. It’s anyone’s guess which team will actually show up for another showdown with Pittsburgh on Sunday.