- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 4, 2006

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Washington Capitals did a lot of things right last night, enough to take the No. 2 team in the Eastern Conference to overtime. They also did just enough wrong to lose.

Ray Whitney scored on a slap shot at 3:35 in the extra period to lead the Carolina Hurricanes past the Caps 6-5, snapping Washington’s three-game winning streak against the Hurricanes.

Whitney’s goal came on a power play, and that’s the bad news. Washington took too many penalties but had been playing well enough to hold the Hurricanes off — until the end.

In fact, the Caps had an excellent chance to win the game in regulation, but their power play failed them with less than three minutes left. Carolina took two bad penalties, giving the Caps a two-man advantage for 65 seconds and nearly a full minute of 5-on-4 power-play time after that. But the Hurricanes held off Washington’s attack to force overtime.

Those are the negatives. The positives are the Caps were down by two goals in the third period and came back, then were down by one goal later in the third and came back again. The rally produced a point, giving the club at least one in six straight games, a season high.

“It’s just another example of a team that’s fairly resilient,” Caps coach Glen Hanlon said. “For a team with 61 points, I think there’s not a lot of teams like that you could attach that word to.”

It definitely applies to Washington captain Jeff Halpern, who had a goal last night and also was awarded decisions in two fights. The two were a career high for the Ivy League graduate. Both came in the second period, the first against Eric Staal when Halpern said he had all the slashing he could take in one game from one player. The second came against Doug Weight, a good friend.

Rico Fata also would qualify as resilient, scoring two goals and adding an assist last night — his first points with the Caps after being claimed off waivers from Atlanta on March 9. Fata has shown promise since he arrived and might have worked his way to some extra ice time.

“Those are the types of situations where you get opportunities and you cash in on it,” Hanlon said. “Who knows what that will be a springboard to? He’s got a great shot. He had an opportunity. We were short-staffed tonight. We dressed 17 skaters and we only had [10] forwards.”

Meanwhile, Alex Ovechkin was held without a goal for the third straight game but did have an assist to run his career-high point streak to nine games, eight short of Mike Gartner’s team record. Ovechkin now has 96 points in his rookie season.

Besides Fata and Halpern, the Caps also got goals from Dainius Zubrus (19) and Chris Clark (20), who has doubled his previous NHL high for one season.

In addition to Halpern, the Caps also lost Nolan Yonkman and Matt Bradley with fighting majors, then lost Yonkman for the game when he was ejected for being the third man in.

Notes — “We’re home,” one of the players piped up as the team bus pulled up in front of the Caps’ hotel in Raleigh on Sunday afternoon. The Caps played three games against the Hurricanes in a nine-day span and now two more against the same club this week. The NHL needs better scheduling. Left wing Matt Pettinger was scratched with an “upper body” injury, leaving the Caps a man short.


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