Fewer Than Two In Three – For the third consecutive game, the Caps limited the opposition to two or fewer goals. Washington earned 3-2 shootout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, and with it, the Caps also have their first string of three straight games with two or fewer goals against in a month.
Washington concluded October with a three-game road trip through Carolina, Minnesota and Calgary with three straight games surrendering two or fewer tallies.
Washington grabbed an early 2-0 lead with Marcus Johansson and Alexander Semin scoring in the first frame. Carolina came back to halve the deficit with a goal in the first minute of the second, and the Canes drew even on Eric Staal’s goal with 2.2 seconds left in regulation and Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward pulled for an extra attacker.
Semyon Varlamov has been in goal for each of Washington’s last three games, and he is now 3-1 with a 1.88 GAA and a .928 save pct. on the season. In three games since being recalled from AHL Hershey, Varlamov is 3-0 with a 1.30 GAA and a .948 save pct.
Varlamov made a game-saving stop on Carolina’s Ian White in overtime.
“The one he made in overtime was obviously a game-saver,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “He made some great saves as he has all week since he’s gotten here.”
Washington has played a total of 151 minutes and 18 seconds of even-strength hockey against Carolina this season. It has allowed three goals on 76 shots (.961 save pct.) during that span. One of those three goals was scored with the netminder pulled in favor of an extra attacker.
Special Stuff – Washington’s power play got just a single kick at the can on Sunday, failing to score. But the Caps are still 17-for-50 (34%) with the extra man over their last 15 games.
The Capitals are now is 50-for-61 (82%) in those same 15 games on the penalty kill.
Start Me Up – The Caps have had their share of first period difficulties this season. But in their last three games, the Caps seem to have put those struggles behind them. Washington has now outshot its foes 40-17 and has outscored them 4-0 in the first 20 minutes of the last three games.
Johansson's goal tonight was his third of the season, and all three have been Washington's first goal of the game.
Helping Hands – Ovechkin set up Semin’s goal with a brilliant pass on the 2-on-1 play. The assist was Ovechkin’s 22nd of the season and it ties him with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby for second place in the league in that department.
Ovechkin and Crosby trail Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin by three assists.
In 14 November games, Ovechkin scored three goals. That’s his lowest single-month total for any month in his career, excluding the months of April and October in which games are not played over the full span of the month, and excluding February, 2006 during which there was a break for the Olympics.
Ovechkin totaled 16 assists during the month of November, the second most he has ever had in a single month. He had 17 assists (and nine goals) in 15 games last January.
During calendar 2010, Ovechkin has 34 goals and 57 assists in 65 games.
November Nights – Sunday’s game concluded the November portion of the 2010-11 regular season slate. For the 21st consecutive month, the Caps recorded more wins than regulation losses, finishing November with a 10-2-2 record.
Heavy Duty – Caps defenseman Karl Alzner logged 23:08 on Sunday, his highest ice time total of the season and the most he has seen since skating 24:16 on Jan. 10, 2009 at Montreal.
Alzner exceeded the 20-minute mark four times in 21 games for the Caps last season. He has done so eight times in 25 games in 2010-11.
Coach K – Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice worked the bench for the 1,000th time in his NHL career on Sunday, becoming the 19th coach in league history to achieve that milestone and, at age 43, the youngest ever to do so. Previously, Brian Sutter coached in his 1,000th game at the age of 47.
Maurice was first hired as an NHL bench boss at the tender age of 28 by the Hartford Whalers 15 years ago this month. He moved with that franchise to Carolina in 1997-98 and is now in his second non-consecutive term as the Canes’ coach.
Maurice has coached 836 of those games with the Hartford-Carolina franchise. He has coached more than twice as many games as any other coach in the franchise’s history.
Maurice needed a win from his team today to pull even for his career. He heads out of the District with a 422-423-155 lifetime record. The Hurricanes host the Dallas Stars at RBC Center on Monday.
Coming In Hot – Cam Ward came into Sunday’s game on a bit of a roll. He blanked the Bruins in Boston on Friday, making 37 stops to record his 13th career shutout. In his previous three games coming into Sunday’s game against the Caps, Ward was 2-0-1 with a 0.65 GAA and a .977 save pct.
The Caps managed to create many strong scoring chances in the first period, but Ward’s excellent goaltending kept the game relatively close at 2-0 for the first 20 minutes.
Today marks the fifth time in 19 starts this season that Ward has faced 40 or more shots in a game. It’s the third time in those five games that he allowed two or fewer goals despite the barrage.
Down On The Farm – The AHL Hershey Bears concluded a busy weekend in which they played three games in as many nights with a Sunday afternoon contest against the Charlotte Checkers at Giant Center.
The Bears took a 2-1 lead on a pair of goals from Mathieu Perreault, but things took a turn for the worse late in the second. Hershey netminder Braden Holtby was nicked for two goals in 18 seconds in the final three minutes of the middle frame, with the first coming on a shorthanded penalty shot.
Charlotte defenseman Bryan Rodney added a pair in the third to send the Checkers to a 5-2 win over the Bears, dropping Hershey to 5-2 in Sunday games.
Holtby made 18 saves in the loss. The loss kept the Bears from a perfect weekend. They defeated Syracuse on Friday and Holtby blanked Adirondack on Saturday.
Hershey remains in fourth place in the AHL East, nine points off the pace being set by the front-running Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays eked out a 3-2 win over the Toledo Walleye at North Charleston Coliseum on Sunday. The Stingrays got a 23-save effort in goal from Jared DeMichiel and goals from David de Kastrozza, Rob Ricci and Matt Scherer.
The Stingrays still stand fourth in the ECHL’s South Division, 13 points off the pace being set by the Gwinnett Gladiators.
By The Numbers – Washington won 12 of 15 (80%) of its first-period draws against Carolina on Sunday. Hurricanes centers Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu were both 0-for-4 in the circle in the first frame. Ruutu was 0-for-9 on the draw after 40 minutes. His circle work was reduced in the third, but he lost the only one he took for a perfectly dreadful 0-for-10 on the night … Rookie blueliner John Carlson paced the Caps in hits (four) and ice time (25:09). He also had three blocked shots … Jeff Schultz led the Caps with seven blocked shots … Washington blocked nearly as many shots (25) as they allowed on goal (28) … Carolina’s Joni Pitkanen led all players on both sides with 31:54 in ice time. Staal led all forwards on both sides with 26:08 of work … The Capitals are now 12-1-1 on home ice this season.
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