Capitals 3, Hurricanes 2 OT/SO (1-0)
When these two divisional rivals, the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals always seem to play one another very tough. Tonight was no exception. Even with a 2-0 Caps' lead, the 'Canes would make things interesting scoring a last second goal in the third. But the deciding factor is a goaltender that was on only his fourth start of the season and Semyon Varlamov turned away all three shoot out shots to ensure the Caps third win in a row.
Alex Ovechkin did not score a goal. In fact his last 8 points have all been assists. But not for lack of effort as Ovi had seven shots on net and another five shots attempted. He seemed to have a jump in his step as he had more than a few glorious chances to bury the puck but were all thwarted by Carolina's top goaltender Cam Ward. Ovi did manage a beaut of an assist on Alex Semin's goal to give the Caps a two goal lead and he scored the only shoot out goal to give the Caps the win and much needed two points.
Marcus Johansson continues to impress as a rookie after some hard nose forechecking. Eric Fehr dug the puck out of the corner to a wide open Johansson and the rook made no mistake waiting out Ward and slipping the puck five hole to give the Caps the early lead.
The Caps' defensive core did their best to keep the 'Canes explosive offense and Varly was there to clean up any mistakes. However, the 'Canes would make a rally and with under 4 seconds left, Tom Poti failed to tie up Eric Staal's stick in front and Carolina tied the game with only 2.2 seconds left on the clock.
The defensive duo of John Carlson and Karl Alzner continues to impress. The pair were called upon to neutralize Carolina's top line including Eric Staal. They were successful for a majority of the game keeping the 'Canes from penetrating Varlamov.
Alex Semin continues his hot hand scoring yet again. He has his fourth goal in 2 games and he finished off a great pass from Alex Ovechkin to keep his point streak going to now three games. Semin's work on the penalty kill was superb, and has been this season.
I don't like to comment on officiating. For one, it's a hard job to make split second decisions in an incredibly fast game to decipher exactly what happened. Two, you can't really use officiating as an excuse. But the officiating in this game was weird to say the least. Obvious plays that were penalties on the Hurricanes seemed to go unnoticed. While the Caps couldn't get away with much. The game was relatively penalty free, but the Caps just couldn't get the calls their way.
Sergei Samsonov clearly tripped up John Carlson in the corner in the third period. Samsonov threw his hands in the air as if he was expecting the call. But no hand went up. Ovechkin was tripped up right in front of the referee, and he nearly put his arm in the air but decided not to. It lead to some frustrated Capitals through out the third period who felt they deserved better from the officiating.
In the end there was only one penalty against the 'Canes, and three calls against the Caps. At the end of the game, it wasn't the deciding factor. Thankfully.
Ovi's new approach to the shoot out, swinging out wide left and cutting to the net has opened options for the dynamic left and/or right winger. Tonight was no exception as once again he started his run by swinging out wide left and waited out 'Canes goaltender Cam Ward and roofing it up over his glove side. Ovechkin would score the only shoot out goal.
Semyon Varlamov is making the choice of going back to Michal Neuvirth a tough one. He was spectacular tonight stopping some great shots by the 'Canes in overtime. He would stop 26 shots and all three shoot out shots by the 'Canes.