The Capitals wrappped up their three-game homestand on the wrong side of a 6-3 score against Carolina on Monday, a loss that snapped their three-game winning streak. The defeat also ended Washington’s stretch of five straight home wins where they had nearly tripled their opponents in goals 21-8.
The Hurricanes entered the game as the NHL’s worst team with only nine wins and 25 points, but would get off to a good start in the first period when the Capitals got into penalty trouble. Carolina’s Jussi Jokinen was able to draw two penalties. On the first, Nicklas Baskstrom was called for a double minor for high sticking, then Mike Green was wistled for hooking at the 5:48 mark. Tuomo Ruutu made the two-man advantage count, scoring his 11th goal of the season and giving the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead. Carolina made it 2-0 at 10:14 of the first when Eric Staal found the net for his seventh goal of the year. Staal, a 40 goal scorer last season is having his struggles this year, but would finish the game with two goals and three assists. The Canes built the lead to 3-0 just over four minutes later, when Jokinen connected for his 11th of the year. The Caps gave up three goals in the first period for just the second time this season.
Mike Green put the Capitals on the scoreboard with an early power play goal 1:14 into the second period. For Green the goal was his ninth of the season, with the assists going to Tomas Fleischmann and Alex Ovechkin. Green has scored in three straight games, and has six goals in his last 11 games. But the momentum was short-lived. Brandon Sutter gave the Hurricanes a three-goal lead again at 3:32 of the second period with his 10th goal of the season.
Eric Fehr cut into the Hurricanes 4-1 advantage, taking a shot from the right wing boards that was blocked by Hurricanes defenseman Andrew Alberts, who then tried to swat the puck away only to have it go into his own net. For Fehr his ninth goal of the season made it a two-goal game entering the third period.
Alex Ovechkin’s 26th goal of the season early in the third on the power play would bring the Capitals within one, but they would get no closer on this night. Ovechkin’s goal tied him with Marian Gaborik for the league lead, he also had an assist to raise his point total to 49. Ovechkin has scored in four straight games. Last season Ovechkin led the league with 24 goals in the final frame, he now has four goals in the third in his last four games.
Jose Theodore suffered just his second regulation loss on home ice, allowing 5 goals on 25 shots. Staal also scored an empty net goal at 18:28 of the third. Theodore is 3-2-3 at Verizon this season. It’s the third time this season the Capitals have given up six goals in a game, and the first time at home. Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward made 28 saves to win for the first time on the road this season. It’s his 13th career victory against Washington.
Carolina won for just the second time on the road this season. They handed Pittsburgh a 3-2 loss on December 7, a win that snapped a 13-game road winless streak. The loss is also the Capitals first against the Southeast division.
The Capitals finished the night two for five on the power play. The Hurricanes went one for four.
Earlier in the day the Capitals made a deal with the Blue Jackets, trading Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina to Columbus in exchange for Jason Chimera.
It’s back to the west coast for a pair of games in the Golden State. The San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings are up next for the Capitals, who will be ringing in the New Year away from home for the first time in recent memory. The Caps have played well against the Western Conference all season with a 5-2-1 record. One of those wins came against the Sharks 4-1 back in October at Verizon Center.
Originally posted on CSNWashington.com