Alexander Semin got booed every time he touched the puck. The scorn from seven seasons in Washington is still fresh.
Joe Corvo got the “Whoop” treatment from the Verizon Center crowd, reserved for unpopular ex-Capitals players, mostly defensemen.
Now with the Carolina Hurricanes, they got the last laugh Tuesday in a 4-0 victory that pushed the Caps’ Southeast Division deficit to 10 points with 23 games to play.
“We can’t be going 5-5 in a 10 game stretch here, everything’s got to be 7-3, 8-2,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “We’re not in a good spot at all right now. It’s got to be picked up, it’s got to stay up. We can’t have these dips.”
Corvo, who played 25 regular-season and playoff games with the Caps in 2010, scored a flukey goal 3:55 in, shooting it off Braden Holtby’s mask and in.
“It’s nice to have a goal here,” Corvo said. “I can’t remember the last time I scored here. It’s nice to be feeling good and playing good.”
Naturally, Semin had the primary assist. Since his first game in Washington as an opponent, Semin has three goals and 10 assists in the past seven, including Tuesday night.
But it was another familiar face, not nearly as much as Semin or Corvo, who hurt the Caps. It was goaltender Justin Peters, who beat them for the second season in a row.
Peters, making just his third NHL appearance of the year since starter Cam Ward suffered a knee injury, shut out the Caps yet again, making 26 saves. Whenever there was a quality chance, 26-year-old was there to stifle Marcus Johansson and Co.
“Petey came up with a huge game tonight, and that’s a big test coming in on a really important divisional game that he can walk in on the road and get a shutout,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. “He’s worked hard and it’s great to see for him.”
Peters picked up his 13th career victory, third against the Caps. All-time vs. Washington. He’s 3-1 with a 1.49 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. He shut out the Caps in Raleigh, N.C., on Feb. 20, 2012, in arguable the team’s worst game under coach Dale Hunter.
At the other end of the ice Tuesday, the patchwork blue line did not hold up. With Mike Green, John Erskine and Tom Poti out with injuries, the Caps iced a defense corps featuring Tomas Kundratek, Steve Oleksy and Cameron Schilling. Those three were with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears when the NHL season began.
“That’s definitely a spot of concern right now for them,” Corvo said. “They’re missing a bunch of guys. That was part of the game plan: just get it down in their end and grind away.”
The Hurricanes scored three goals, one against each of the Caps’ defensive pairings. Following Corvo’s odd goal, Riley Nash deflected a Jay Harrison shot in front for the second after cycling on Schilling.
The third happened when Patrick Dwyer beat Jeff Schultz to negate an icing call and fed Nash for a snipe.
“I was just kind of coasting up the ice; I didn’t know if Patty was gonna get there or not, so I saved a little energy, probably taking the cheater way out,” Nash said. “But he’s always a fast guy, he beat him to the puck and then I just tried to find some open ice and get away as fast as possible.”
Dwyer added an empty-netter to seal it. These two teams meet again Thursday in Raleigh.