Stop me if you heard this one before. The Caps followed one of their finest performances of the year with one of their worst. The inconsistency has to be to incredibly frustrating. As good as they looked in Montreal Wednesday, they were that bad Friday in Raleigh, and it was special teams breakdown after breakdown that doomed them.
Washington had taken eight of the last nine from Carolina.The Hurricanes did not beat them in regulation last year, and had dropped the first three meetings of this season.
In speaking with Kirk Muller Friday morning, Locker and I had the sense that the Canes felt like they deserved a better fate five days ago in DC. They really like their effort in what turned out to be a 2-1 loss. Well, if they liked that one, then this one tonight was one to love for the Caniacs.
Tomas Vokoun made 43 saves last Sunday to help down the Hurricances and he would be the goalie for Washington at RBC Center. Head Coach Dale Hunter had told Tomas he was playing in this game before Michal Neuvirth went out and blanked the Canadiens Wednesday.
Vokoun was our CSN Caps outstanding player of the game tonight, and in all honesty there werent many other guys from which to choose.
The Caps were on a first-period power play and it turned out to backfire in a big way. John Carlson had the puck poked off his stick by Eric Staal , which led to a breakaway finish from Jussi Jokinen. Carolina now has eight shorthanded goals, second best to New Jersey in the NHL.
The Canes second goal came while they had the man-advantage very late in period two. Jay Harrison moved in smartly from his point position and had his shot stopped by Vokoun, but it was Jokinen who managed to get free for the rebound put-away. Jokinen has seven goals this year, four of them against the Caps.
Washington had three power-plays tonight and mustered all of one shot on them combined. While at even-strength the passing was nowhere near as crisp as we have seen lately, and the Canes were winning a lot of the hustle and battle plays. When that happens, the Caps look miserable while playing too much in their defensive zone. No team likes to be pinned in like that.
Carolina salted the game in the final minute with its second power-play strike. Jiri Tlusty carried the puck into the offensive end cut hard to the cage, where Vokoun stuck out his leg pad to trip him and while he was falling to the ice, Tlusty slid the puck into the open cage.
Cam Ward made 23 saves for the shutout win, the fourth time in his career that he has white-washed the Caps.
On Sunday, the Capitals face Pittsburgh at Consol Energy Center in a game that will air on NBC-4 in Washington.
Well see you Tuesday on CSN for the Caps first look at the defending Stanley Cup Champion Bruins.
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