The Caps had a chance to open up a sizable lead against the second-place Hurricanes in the Southeast Division, but they couldn’t do it in a 3-1 loss. Instead of as much as an eight-point lead, Washington is now four up on Carolina. Considering that an eight-point hole was possible and that the team hadn’t won for new coach Paul Maurice, the Hurricanes figured to be the more desperate club. The Caps outshot the Hurricanes 39-25, but it was the Hurricanes who were the better team in the final minutes.
On the bright side, there are no new injuries to report.
Here are some notes:
*Michael Leighton didn’t need to be spectacular often, but he was steady throughout and finished with 38 saves. The longer Cam Ward is out, the more Leighton needs to play like this to keep the Hurricanes within striking distance of the Caps.
*Alex Ovechkin had 11 shots on net and logged more than 26 minutes, but he missed another penalty shot and is now 0-for-5 in his career. Wanted to ask Bruce Boudreau if he considered taking his timeout there to give Ovechkin a breather since it was a long PK shift, but forgot.
*Sami Lepisto and Bryan Helmer were on the ice for all three Carolina goals, though the game sheet after the game had it wrong. Lepisto fell to the ice while battling Sergei Samsanov behind his net on the Eric Staal goal.
Lepisto said he can’t fall down in that spot, but also said he was having a skate issue. There was a sequence earlier in the game when he slipped in the neutral zone and then checked out his skate as well. Bruce Boudreau simply said he can’t trip over his feet at that juncture.
*Both of Ray Whitney’s goals were rebounds. On the first one, both he and Patrick Eaves were waiting unmarked in front of the net to bang home the rebound, and on the second one there were four Caps in the scramble in front, but Whitney swooped in from the perimeter and put in the insurance tally.
*Sean Collins had another solid game, and earned nearly 15 minutes of ice time — about a 50 percent increase from his NHL debut the night before. Helmer actaully led all of the defensemen in ice time at 21:37 — in part because he was the only one of the six taking a regular shift on both special teams units.
*Rod Brind’Amour might have been a minus-22 coming into the game, but he looked like the old Brind’Amour tonight. He was a plus-2 and won a ridiculous 16 of 20 faceoffs.
*The Hurricanes had gone 12 straight games giving up the first goal.
*Example A why the giveaway/takeaway section of NHL box scores is pretty useless — the Caps were credited with only two giveaways in the enitre game and both were by Ovechkin. Two giveaways in 60 minutes when the puck changes possession about 350 times cannot be possible.