Drawing Blanks – For the second time in their last three games, the Capitals have been on the short end of 3-0 shutout losses to lower-runged teams on the Eastern Conference’s standings ladder.
Washington absorbed a 3-0 shutout at the hands of Cam Ward and the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh on Friday night, managing just 23 shots on net in the process. Tonight’s whitewash was Ward’s third lifetime against Washington and his first against the Capitals since a 5-0 blanking on Nov. 5, 2007.
Washington was never able to sustain a consistent forecheck, and it was unable to cash in on its few prime scoring chances. At least two of the Caps’ rare odd-man breaks went by the wayside without as much as a shot on goal.
“We obviously didn’t play consistently enough offensively,” laments Caps defneseman Dennis Wideman. “We’ve got to find a way to get more pucks to the net and get more scoring chances and stop giving up so many. We’re spending a lot of time in our own zone and a lot of time from the red line back towards our end. It’s too much, I think.
“We have to do a better job of getting the puck to our forwards in a position where they can get it in [to the offensive zone] and when they do get it, they have to do a better job of getting it in. It starts right from the breakout pass. We have to have a little more patience than to just slap it around the wall or throw it away. We have to support each other and when the guy is open, get him the puck and make the plays. We can play like this too much longer.”
Two nights after leading most of the way and performing splendidly on special teams in a 3-0 win of their own over the Canadiens in Montreal, the Caps gave up a goal in each period to Carolina.
All three Hurricanes goals came via special teams. Jussi Jokinen’s shorthanded goal at 12:43 of the first frame gave the Canes and Ward all the offense they would need on this night.
For good measure, Jokinen added a power play strike in the final minute of the second period and Jiri Tlusty supplied another extra-man tally in the final minute of the third.
“On the power play tonight, we got outworked,” says Wideman. “We turned too many pucks over. We didn’t get anything toward the net. We gave up three or four breakaways.”
Strong goaltending from Tomas Vokoun kept the Caps within striking distance, but they never struck.
Pop-Gun Attack – Washington has now gone 17 straight games with 30 or fewer shots on goal, its longest such streak in nearly eight years. The Capitals have also recorded single-digit shot totals in 20 of their last 21 periods of hockey, a span of seven games.
Washington has recorded fewer than 25 shots on goal in each of its last seven straight games.
Suing For Non-Support – Vokoun’s mates haven’t scored a goal for him in his last two starts. They’ve scored two goals for him in his last three starts, and seven goals in his last five starts.
In Vokoun’s 12 losses this season, Washington has tallied a total of 14 goals. In nine of his dozen losses, the Capitals have managed either one or zero goals on Vokoun’s behalf.
Water In The Desert – Friday night’s win over the Capitals was Carolina’s first triumph over Washington in regulation since Dec. 28, 2009. That Canes victory at Verizon Center more than two years ago came by a 6-3 count on the day the Caps shipped captain Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Jason Chimera. Washington had been 9-0-3 in its previous dozen meetings with the Hurricanes prior to Carolina's Friday night win.
Ice Story –Mathieu Perreault skated 13:14 in Friday’s game, his second-highest single-game ice time total in 28 games this season. Cody Eakin logged 12:40 on Friday, the most he has skated in 18 games, since Nov. 17 in Winnipeg.
Marcus Johansson skated 22:07 on Friday, cracking the 20-minute barrier for just the second time this season. He fell nine seconds shy of his single-game career high of 22:16, established on Jan. 16, 2011 against Ottawa. Johansson did not record a shot on goal in that 22:07 of work against the Canes; he did have two shot bids blocked.
Brooks Laich’s Friday night total of 15:29 was his third-lowest figure in 46 games this season.
Workhorse – The Caps spent four minutes on the power play in the game’s first period, and Caps captain Alex Ovechkin was on the ice for 2:10 of that power play time. Ovechkin also logged 7:20 in even-strength ice time in the first to finish at 9:30 overall for the first period.
Ovechkin finished the night with 24:37 in ice time, his highest single-game total of the season. He managed just two shots on goal.
Shutout Streak – An admittedly perfunctory look through the Caps’ annals indicates this is the first time in more than a decade that three straight Capitals games have ended with one team or the other being shutout.
From Jan. 12-16, 2002 the Caps played three straight shutout games. They won 1-0 shutout decisions on Jan. 12 and 14 against Florida and Boston, respectively, with the win over the Bruins coming in overtime. The Caps then dropped a 2-0 contest to the Canadiens on Jan. 16.
Those contests came in the midst of then-Caps coach Ron Wilson’s experimentation with the “3-D” system in which he deployed three defensemen and two forwards on the ice at all times, dressing 10 forwards and eight defensemen for games.
Staaled vs. Southeast – Carolina captain Eric Staal scored two goals against the Caps in Washington’s 4-3 win over the Hurricanes back on Oct. 8. Staal has not tallied against a Southeast team since; he has gone 11 straight games now without lighting the lamp against a divisional opponent.
Get ‘Em Out By Friday – Immediately after the game, the Canes announced that they had dealt forward Alexei Ponikarovsky to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a fourth-round draft choice in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and blueline prospect Joe Sova.
Ponikarovsky skated 12:04 for the Canes on Friday against Washington, leading Carolina with six hits on the night. He had seven goals and 15 points in playing all 49 games for the Hurricanes thus far this season. For his NHL career, Ponikarovsky has 128 goals and 296 points in 603 games.
Ponikarovsky scored his first NHL goal at Washington’s expense on Feb. 1, 2001. He was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the time.
The Devils will be Ponikarovsky’s fifth different employer in the last three seasons, following Toronto, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Carolina.
Down On The Farm – The AHL Hershey Bears spent their Friday night on the road in Binghamton taking on the Senators. The Bears spotted their hosts a 3-0 first period lead and fell by a 4-3 count.
The Bears roared back to even the score at 3-3 after that early deficit, drawing even on Chris Bourque’s shorthanded goal (his 21st of the season) midway through the third period. But the Bears surrendered a shorthanded strike to the Sens’ Jim O’Brien less than three minutes later, enabling Binghamton to take a lead they would not relinquish.
Julien Brouillette and Jacob Micflikier scored the other Hershey goals and Braden Holtby made 30 saves in goal for the Bears in a losing effort.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays hosted Greenville on Friday night at North Charleston Coliseum. The Stingrays skated off with a 4-1 win.
The Stingrays got goals from Maxime Lacroix, David de Kastrozza, Pierre-Luc O’Brien and Trent Campbell in support of Daren Machesney’s 23-save efforts in the South Carolina goal.
By The Numbers – Ovechkin skated a single-game season high 24:37 in Friday’s game. That figure tied defenseman Dennis Wideman for the high among Caps skaters in Friday’s game … Matt Hendricks led the Caps with three shots on goal, doing so in 9:56 of work on the night. Hendricks also paced the Caps with four hits … John Carlson led the Caps with five blocked shots … Perreault and Halpern were each 5-for-6 (83%) in the face-off circle … Tlusty led the Canes with five shots on net.
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