The Hurricanes picked up their first point of the season but couldn’t pick up a win as they were defeated by the Caps 4-3 in overtime taking their record to 0-1-1. The game was the Capitals’ season opener at the Verizon Center. Canes captain Eric Staal was seeking redemption for his poor play Friday night and scored 2 power play goals, and picked up 1 assist. Although he came away with the loss, netminder Brian Boucher looked solid in net and made 32 stops on 36 shots in his Hurricanes debut. Many were surprised to see young Michal Neuvirth get the start for the Caps as the club has been touting recently acquired 35 year old Tomas Vokoun as their go to guy. The younger of the Czechs stopped 28 of 31 shots in his first win of the season.
The Canes came out much crisper and more organized than they were Friday and killed off two back-to-back penalties in the first as Alexei Ponikarovsky and Chad LaRose spent time in the box. Tim Gleason provided nice coverage in front of the net and made good use of his stick knocking a puck down ice at the end of the first penalty kill. The Hurricanes got their own power play when the captain Alexander Ovechkin was called for crosschecking at 13:34. This was a chance to get a look at a new power play line utilizing Jokinen, Staal, Skinner, Kaberle, and Pitkanen. It resulted in no points but it was well executed and restored confidence in the fans that the power play can be fixed. The match was scoreless as the teams hit the locker rooms after the first.
The power play improvement was evident in the second as Eric Staal was on the receiving end of an amazing cross the ice pass by Jussi Jokinen and knocked in the first goal of the night. The lead was not to be held as Alexander Semin got a clean breakaway leaving Boucher defenseless at the other end scoring with 5:31 left in second period. Caps winger Jason Chimera beat Tuomo Ruutu to the net and scored with 20.1 seconds left on the clock. John Carlson was whistled with 11 seconds left in the period for delay of game, and the Canes were down 2-1 as they headed into the second intermission.
The Canes started the third on the remainder of the power play from the Carlson penalty. Once again it was Eric Staal potting the goal after a pass from Jeff Skinner. The Caps answered back. At 15:08 Joni Pitkanen called for boarding. Brandon Sutter was called for tripping Ovechkin, utilizing some of his acting skills, shortly thereafter and Brooks Laich scored on the Capitals power play. But with 1:29 left on the clock Neuvirth went to his stomach anticipating a shot and before he could get back up Jussi Jokinen chucked in shot in the right corner of the net. Alexander Semin got 2 minutes for boarding as he drilled Bryan Allen’s head into the boards as time expired in regulation. A scrum ensued with all the guys on the ice coming to the defense of the big guy that usually defends them.
The contest entered overtime with time left on the Semin call, but the Canes could not convert. Jokinen was called for a ticky tack holding penalty that left Caniacs scratching their heads about the judgement of the officials. The Caps Mike Green would go on to score the game-winning goal of the night with a final score of 4-3.
Observations from my Couch:
- Joni Pitkanen made a brief trip to the locker room after being slew-footed by Matt Hendrcicks. Lets hope Brendan Shanahan takes a look at the footage.
- Brandon Sutter plays with his entire body diving on the ice, stretching that extra inch. His intensity has really picked up this season.
- Bryan Allen fought a hard contest and blocked a shot and took a hard hit with the puck on his body. The team had his back when needed.
- Ovechkin, just back in town after attending his uncle’s funeral, wasn’t his normally flashy self but showed little signs of fatigue or jet lag during the match logging over 20 minutes.
- Coach Maurice made line changes on the fly shifting Chad LaRose to the first line. Not sure why that decision was made.
- The line anchored by Tim Brent still looks solid.
- As I watch TOI closely, I noticed then numbers tonight looked much more distributed not counting Joni’s unplanned sit down.
- Tim Brent got schooled by a broadcaster how to pronounced “Raleigh” (it’s not Rally) only to have the broadcaster turn around and say Teeomo Ruutu. Broadcast karma?
The Canes face the New Jersey Devils Monday afternoon in their home arena. Don’t forget to set your DVRs! Pucks and Pitchforks will have your New Jersey news on the FanSided network and Dan will get you ready for the game here.
Topics: Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Brandon Sutter, Brian Boucher, Bryan Allen, Chad LaRose, Eric Staal, Jason Chimera, Jeff Skinner, Jussi Jokinen, Michal Neuvirth, New Jersey Devils, Tim Brent, Tim Gleason, Tomas Kaberle, Tuomo Ruutu, Washington Capitals