Take Two, And Hit The Road Again – Tonight’s tilt against the Hurricanes is Washington’s lone home game in a span of 19 days during which they will play seven times on the road. Playing the third game of a three-game road trip, Carolina hit town with a dismal 1-11-3 road record this season.
The Canes jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but Washington prevailed on Mike Green’s game-winning goal in overtime, 4-3.
With their top six forwards all back in the lineup for the first time since Nov. 1, the Capitals had plenty of scoring chances early but were unable to solve Carolina goaltender Cam Ward. Meanwhile, at the other end of the ice, the Hurricanes beat Washington’s Jose Theodore on two of their first three shots to jump out to an early 2-0 lead.
When Carolina’s Eric Staal tucked a wraparound past Theodore from behind the Washington net at 13:56 of the first, the Caps held an 8-3 advantage in shots on goal but trailed 2-0 where it counted.
“We were circling everywhere,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau of his team’s play early in Friday night’s game. “Even though the shots were pretty one-sided, I think on the basis of scoring chances, they [Carolina] had as many or more than we did. We’ve gotta get back to it and just play the way we can. We weren’t getting the puck deep and we were trying to be fancy, and when we try to be fancy, nothing works.”
The Caps were somewhat somnambulant in the second period, but Washington’s game ops crew gave the boys a boost when it played the “Unleash The Fury” bit on the overhead scoreboard. The crowd came to life, and soon afterwards, so did the Capitals.
Alexander Semin scored twice in the final seven minutes of the second period, including the tally that tied the game at 2-2 with six-tenths of a second remaining in the middle frame.
Tomas Fleischmann put the Caps ahead in the third, but Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason scored a shorthanded goal with 6:30 remaining to send the game to overtime.
Green finished the Canes off at 1:16 of the extra session.
Turning Point – With Carolina enjoying its first power play of the night and nursing a slim 2-1 lead late in the second period, the visitors had a chance to regain their two-goal lead. Hurricanes forward Tuomo Ruutu pushed a rebound past Caps goaltender Jose Theodore at 18:06, but he did so with his skate, using a distinct kicking motion. The goal went to video review, and it was determined that Ruutu did not kick the puck to his stick blade but rather directly into the net. No goal.
With seconds remaining in the period, Semin took off on a burst down the right wing. Carolina goaltender Cam Ward snuffed Semin’s original shot, but the Caps winger collected the rebound and authoritatively fired a wrister high into the cage over the Carolina goaltender. Six-tenths of a second showed on the game clock when the red light went on.
In less than two minutes time, a two-goal swing occurred to alter the game’s momentum.
“If they make it 3-1, clearly it’s going to be really tough,” says Boudreau. “But, clearly it was an illegal goal. Anytime you score a goal at the end of the period, in the last minute or something, it gives you life and deflates the other team. I think it did a little bit with these guys.”
Down Two After One – For the first time all season, the Caps found themselves in a 2-0 hole at the end of the first period.
You First – The Capitals are now 6-1-2 in games in which the opposition scores the game’s first goal.
Cane Killer – Semin now has 21 goals and 36 points in 25 career games against the Hurricanes.
Multiple Men – The Capitals have combined for 23 two-goal games in 32 contests thus far this season. Semin has five two-goal games in 2009-10.
Drought – When Semin scored his first goal of the game at 13:07 of the second, it ended a team scoring drought of 113:22, the Capitals’ longest of the season. Washington was outscored 5-0 during that drought.
How About A Little Something, You Know, For the Effort? – When Carolina’s Ray Whitney was sent to the sin bin for hooking at 8:14 of the second, it ended a stretch of 84:45 during which Washington did not have a single power play opportunity.
That’s Going To Leave A Mark – For the second straight Caps-Canes game, an Alex Ovechkin/Tim Gleason encounter ended up with one of them leaving the ice. Late in the first period, Gleason blocked an Ovechkin snap shot. With his face.
Gleason needed 30 stitches to close the wound. He returned to the ice late in the second period, sporting a nasty scar and a full fishbowl shield. Later in the game, it looked like Gleason’s sutures broken open; he appeared to be bleeding again.
He logged just 10:42 on the night, but blocked four shots and scored the first shorthanded goal of his 358-game NHL career.
“He’s unbelievable,” says Canes center Brandon Sutter of Gleason. “He’s been like that all year. He’s one of those guys that you have a lot of respect for. He battles. His coming back in the third was a lift for us and then he goes down and scores, it just shows a bit of what his character is.”
Stepping Up – Playing in just his third NHL game of the season and the eighth of his career, Canes defenseman Brett Carson stepped into the void left by Gleason’s absence and filled it capably. The 24-year-old Carson logged 22:45, was a plus-1, had two hits and blocked eight shots.
Happy Birthday – To one of the greatest defensemen of the latter portion of the Original Six era, Hockey Hall of Famer Pierre Pilote. Pilote, born on this day in 1931, won three straight Norris Trophies as the league’s top defenseman, starting in 1963.
By The Numbers – The Capitals registered only three hits in the first period, and just two in the second. Green laid three of those five Washington bodychecks inb the game’s first 40 minutes … The Capitals “outshot” Carolina 85-37 on the night. Forty of Washington’s shots made it on target, 28 were blocked and 17 missed the net. The Hurricanes put 19 shots on goal, had 13 blocked and missed with five attempts … Green’s goal was the 10th game-winner of his career … The Caps are now 8-0 against the Southeast Division this season. They’re the only team in the league with a perfect record against its own division.
Down On The Farm – For the second straight Friday night, the AHL Hershey Bears were in upstate New York to take on the Albany River Rats. And for the second straight Friday night, the Bears came up on the short end of the score. Albany got two first-period goals, a late empty-netter and 36 saves from goaltender Justin Peters to earn a 3-0 whitewash win over the Bears.
Hershey returns home to host Rochester on Saturday. The Bears remain three points ahead of second-place Albany for the lead in the AHL’s East Division.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays were back home at the North Charleston Coliseum on Friday, hosting the Trenton Devils. Dylan Yeo scored twice, Jake Hauswirth had two assists and Stingrays netminder Todd Ford stopped 34 of 35 Trenton shots to help South Carolina to a 4-1 win.
The Rays host Trenton again on Saturday and they host Charlotte on Sunday afternoon. South Carolina’s 17-6-1-3 record is the best in the ECHL’s American Conference and the Rays lead the South Division by nine points over Charlotte.