After stringing together two wins, the Washington Capitals were unable to extend the streak to three, falling 4-1 at Verizon Center to the Carolina Hurricanes, who were missing former Capital Alex Semin to a concussion.
The Caps got off to a good start, even outshooting the Canes for most of the first period — but Jeff Skinner boosted the Canes to a 1-0 lead midway through the period, beating Braden Holtby on his glove side.
It was the beginning of a not-so-great night for Holtby, as Skinner beat him again in the second period, on his blocker side, on what looked like a harmless wrist shot, after outskating Tyson Strachan. It was one of many breakdowns for the Capitals.
Despite starting the second period on the power play, one of three they had in the second period, the Capitals couldn’t find a rhythm on the man advantage all night.
Mikhail Grabovski took a tripping penalty midway through the second period, leading to another Canes goal. On the bright side, the penalty kill overall wasn’t half-bad – the Capitals killed off three of the Canes four power plays. Coach Adam Oates said he thought the first period was the best they’d played all season, despite Skinner’s goal.
“We came in after the first period and we all looked at each other and said ‘best period of the year; best first period of the year.’ They had two chances. Seven to two. And the goal was a chance,” said Oates. “So we did a lot of good things.”
“No matter who you are you eventually leak a little oil, and I think we did that,” continued Oates.
“Over the course of 80 games I think sometimes you’re going to have games where everything the other team does well goes in, but for the first 30 minutes I didn’t mind our game at all.”
The Canes’ third goal of the game came on their power play, and scored a fourth soon after, an even strength tally from Jiri Tlusty.
Skinner’s second goal likely took all the air out of the Caps effort, Karl Alzner said.
“Their second goal [in the second period] kind of deflated us a little bit. I still thought we were okay, then they got that power play goal and there was just no life left. Not only on the bench, but in the stands.”
“We may have underestimated these guys a little bit and when they were up three to nothing on us, we were mad, but we didn’t use that anger the right way,” said Alzner.
“We used it to kind of feel sorry for ourselves. It was really strange to see.”
It was Holtby’s 13th straight start; and not a good night for him. He seemed a bit off – not injured, but maybe just fatigued. Philipp Grubauer started the third period in his stead. Grubauer stopped all nine shots directed at him, and said he wasn’t fazed by going in cold and being on the penalty kill right out of the gate in the third.
One small bright spot was Mike Green, leading the league in shots without scoring a goal (65), finally scored his first goal of the season on a Caps power play in the third.
The Capitals are 5-4-0 against Metropolitan Division opponents this season.