Five minutes and nine seconds. That’s how long Caps’ netminder Tomas Vokoun lasted between the pipes in the Canes 5-0 win over the Capitals Monday night before being replaced by Michal Neuvirth. Those five minutes may have seemed like the longest of Vokoun’s life as he faced seven shots on goal with the Canes scoring on two them.
No one was quite sure what to expect from the boys in black tonight as they were bringing in a mishmash of a lineup. With LaRose and Ruutu still out, Jerome Samson and Drayson Bowman continued to fill forward slots. But those weren’t the only changes. The Canes were without their backbone, Cam Ward, who aggravated an undisclosed injury in Saturday’s contest against the Islanders. Justin Peters took his place in the net and went on to earn his first NHL shutout stopping seventeen shots while Mike Murphy of the Checkers sat at the ready.
The Canes got on the score sheet early in the first when they picked up a power play as Roman Hamrlik went to the box for an elbow. Tim Brent fired a shot from the point that bounced back with a perfect rebound directly on the stick of Justin Faulk who easily wristed it past Vokoun. The Canes were far from done though as a couple of minutes later Jiri Tlusty forced a turnover on the blue line. He sped down the ice and passed to Eric Staal who quickly centered the puck back to Anthony Stewart for a wrister. The Canes celebrated and the Capitals brought out the hook for Vokoun at the 14:51 mark. Neuvirth would get his turn to prove himself with thirty seconds left in the period. Bryan Allen battled Troy Brouwer on the boards in the Canes’ zone. Brouwer got the puck loose but then lost control. Brandon Sutter swiftly scooped it up and sped down the left side where Andreas Nodl was waiting for him on the right to blast in a goal. The period expired and the Canes headed to the room with a 3-0 lead.
Any doubts about the Canes being able to keep up the pace were quickly quelled in the second. With Derek Joslin serving the first of his three penalties of the night, the Caps went on the power play. Dennis Wideman stretched every inch he could but he could not stop a horrible pass headed his way. Eric Staal was there however, to help out, break away and maneuver the puck around Neuvirth for his first goal of the night. Yes Caniacs. I said Eric Staal scored on a breakaway and a shorty at that! He is now the franchise leader in shorthanded goals with twelve passing Dave Tippett. That would be the only goal in the second and the Canes were up 4-0.
The Hurricanes showed no signs of tiring and came out still full of jump in the third. They weren’t done scoring either. The Capitals failed to clear the puck out of their zone and Jamie McBain jumped in with a good stick. After a couple of passes, the puck came back to Spacek at the point who found the captain, Eric Staal, waiting at the side of the net to bang it in. Tally another one on the goal sheet for Staal and extend that points streak to six games!
It feels like something is missing from this recap. Oh yes, that would be the Capitals who failed to show up at all. While the NBC Sports commentators would not stop talking about him, Alex Ovechkin was not a factor in the game. He did have a solid hit on Jamie McBain but for the most part went unnoticeable except when he disappeared in the second with an apparent equipment issue. Near the close of the game he was caught on camera hanging his head down on the bench. That pretty much summed up the effort of the Caps tonight. Mike Green also returned to the lineup and was not a factor either. The only Caps that seemed to stand out during the broadcast were Mike Knuble and Troy Brouwer. The team as a whole walked away a -20 while the Canes were a +19.
It still feels like I am missing something. Oh wait. I forgot the fisticuffs! In the second, Matt Hendricks and Derek Joslin got in a little scuffle. They both spent two minutes in the box for roughing. Immediately after being released from the box they decided to go again and each headed right back to the box each with five for fighting. While I am not a huge proponent of fighting, I do see it as indicative of Joslin’s willingness to go to the mats for him teammates and play whatever role he has to in order to contribute to the team. Joslin was not the only pugilist on the Canes bench tonight as rookie Justin Faulk picked up his first NHL scrap with Washington’s 6’3” 213lb Troy Brouwer with a little over three minutes left on the clock. Yes. I said Justin Faulk and Troy Brouwer; not exactly a wimpy opponent. Faulk held his own and got some punches in on Troy. As he skated off to serve his penalty, the grins on the bench from his teammates looked like kids that just found out they were going to Disneyworld or the locker room was full of new Xboxes.
That fight would still not give Washington enough juice to get anything going. The final horn sounded with the Canes grabbing a 5-0 victory over their conference rival and Justin Peters getting the puck from his first NHL shutout.
Observations from the couch:
- Eric Staal is playing like an absolute beast, which is no surprise to those of us who never lost faith in his abilities to put up numbers or be a leader.
- Nodl has been playing a fairly quiet yet steady game. You may not notice him, but spend some time and watch him closely on a shift. You will see him doing lots of little things that add up. I started paying attention to him after watching him in practice. He is very focused and a really hard worker. I have been saying that he was due a goal for the last couple of games (I have witnesses!) and it finally happened. I could feel it coming.
- Justin Faulk (for Calder) only logged 15:09 in Time on Ice last night. I am filing this under “Things That Make You Go Hmm.”
- It was great being on national television, but it would have been nice to hear how we were winning instead of how the Capitals were losing. Additionally, Brian Engblom’s time would have been better spent not obsessively talking about the trade deadline through the entire game. We have free agents! We get it! Shhh! There’s a hockey game going on!
Have any thoughts on last night’s win? Brian Engblom’s hair? Leave us a comment! Thanks to all of Caniac Nation that represented in the RBC Center last night! You did us proud! (Well except for that wave business. We’ll discuss that later.)
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Topics: Alex Ovechkin, Andreas Nodl, Brandon Sutter, Brian Engblom, Brian Englblom, Bryan Allen, Cam Ward, Caniac Nation, Caniacs, Chad LaRose, Charlotte Checkers, Dennis Wideman, Derek Joslin, Drayson Bowman, Eric Staal, First NHL Fight, Jamie McBain, Jerome Samson, Jiri Tlusty, Justin Faulk, Justin Faulk For Calder, Justin Peters, Matt Hendricks, Michal Neurvirth, Mike Green, Mike Knuble, Mike Murphy, NBC Sports Network, New York Islanders, Roman Hamrlik, Tim Brent, Tomas Vokoun, Troy Brouwer, Tuomo Ruutu, Washington Capitals