'Lackluster' Capitals fall to Carolina

'Lackluster' Capitals fall to Carolina
March 30, 2011, 1:43 am
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Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 11:51 p.m.

By Ryan OHalloran
Staff writerCSNwashington.com


Carolina is a team desperately trying to get into playoff consideration and played like it.

The Capitals are a team safely in the postseason and coming off a six-game road trip and played like it.

The result of Washingtons first home game in more than two weeks was a choppy effort that included a blown third-period lead and ultimately a 3-2 shootout loss to the Hurricanes Tuesday night at Verizon Center.

Combined with Philadelphias win at Pittsburgh, the Capitals are three points behind the Eastern Conference leaders.

I thought at times it was a very lackluster game, coach Bruce Boudreau said after his teams five-game home winning streak was snapped. When we played with emotion., I thought we were fine.

Carolinas Jeff Skinner scored the tying goal early in the third period and notched the only shootout goal to spoil the return of Alex Ovechkin and Jason Arnott after three and six games out, respectively.

At some point of the game, we were coasting a little bit instead of pushing the envelope, Capitals defenseman John Carlson said.

Several of those lapses came on the power play, which was an impotent 0-for-3, and a lack of discipline (six penalties).

Alexander Semin and Marcus Johansson scored three-plus minutes apart late in the second period for the Capitals.

Ovechkin was held off the score sheet but he played more than 19 minutes, had five hits and five shots on goal.

Every shift, every period, I felt better and better, the Moscow Dynamo said.

Said Boudreau: I thought his timing was off a little bit on some things.

Just as Ovechkin and Arnott returned, defenseman Dennis Wideman departed late in the second period after an open-ice hit by Tuomo Ruutu. Boudreau said Wideman is day to day, but the injury forced a lot of shuffling amongst the five healthy rearguards.

This is a tough game people are going to get hurt and people are going to get bruised; its about how you fill in for them, said Carlson, who led all Washington players with 28:12 of ice time.

Carolina struck first, at the 2:29 mark of the second period, on Jussi Jokinens power play marker from the low slot. The Hurricanes blew a chance to extend the lead when Capitals goalie Semyon Varlamov successfully poke-checked Chad LaRose on a penalty shot.

The Capitals tied the game when Semin got the puck on the left half-wall and barreled toward the net untouched for his 27th goal. Just 3:17 later, Johansson picked up a loose puck in the left circle and slid a shot under Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward.

Carolina tied the game when Skinners seemingly harmless shot from the right side beat Varlamov.

I think he would want that shot back but I dont want to get down on our goalies theyve been really good, Boudreau said.

A subplot of overtime was Semin (goal, assist) not seeing the ice after he committed a bad hooking penalty with 3:19 remaining in regulation.

He was our best offensive player but at the same time, he did the same thing hes been doing for five years taking a dumb penalty with four minutes to go in the game, Boudreau said. The ref didnt want to call any penalties but you have to call that one.

A post-game topic was how the Capitals still have work to do and should play accordingly.

We still have a lot to play for, Boudreau said. Were not by any stretch of the means taking a vacation before the playoffs. We want to play hard and win every game.

Contact Ryan at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com