Two weeks ago when the Caps faced Carolina, the Hurricanes were the team dealing with numerous injuries to key personnel. The Caps won that one convincingly. Tonight, with the shoe on the other foot, Washington was outplayed by its guests. Kirk Muller’s squad was especially impressive in the second period along the way to a 4-0 win in a showcase game among Southeast-division rivals.
The Hurricanes victory puts them 10 points up on the home team in the division chase. Season after season these two organizations are known to play tight games against each other, one-goal games that often go past regulation. Tonight’s tilt wasn’t that close.
The Caps had opportunities to score in the first half of the game. In the opening minutes of play, Marcus Johansson was set up for a door-step tap-in against Carolina netminder Justin Peters, but somehow chopped it wide.
That missed opportunity at one end led to an unconventional goal at the other. Former Cap Joe Corvo scored a goal off the head of goalie Braden Holtby at 3:55 of the first. Corvo shot the puck from below the goal-line with practically no angle to score. With his intention to bank the puck in off the goaltender, the shot struck the mask of Holtby and caromed into the cage while Braden was crouching deep in his crease.
Troy Brouwer had a shorthanded breakaway bid foiled by Peters in the second period. The middle frame was a very strong one for the Hurricanes. They loaded up on shots, not necessarily great scoring chances, in taking the territorial advantage.
The Canes would strike twice in the second period and the goals did not come from their red-hot top line of Jiri Tlusty, Eric Staal, and Alex Semin.
Riley Nash would turn on the red light both times. The first was a deflection of a drive from Jay Harrison. The second came as the end result of a hustle play by Pat Dwyer. The feisty winger beat Jeff Schultz to a loose puck to negate an icing call, then found Nash cruising in the slot for a close-range finish.
Verizon Center was pretty quiet in the third period until Steve Oleksy breathed life into the patrons with a decisive win in a fight with Drayson Bowman.
The last piece to the puzzle for the Canes was an empty net goal by Dwyer which came shorthanded at 18:39 of the third. The Canes (7) and Penguins have scored the most ENG in the NHL this season.
Peters finished the night with 26 saves for his second NHL shutout, both of which have come against Washington.
The Capitals, reeling with three straight losses, have an instant shot at redemption Thursday night in Raleigh. Coverage on Comcast SportsNet begins with Caps Central at 6:30 p.m.