Caps push the pace

Caps push the pace
April 11, 2013, 10:45 pm
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The race for the top spot in the Southeast Division is so close right now, there is no room for the Capitals to take a false step.  

Despite a first period that was far from its best, the home team rallied to keep up its winning ways with a 3-1 decision over visiting Carolina.

The loss kept the Hurricanes in a dreadful spiral, having dropped all seven of their games this month. Judging by the way they played the first 10 minutes of the game, Carolina might have expected its fortune to change.

After three different penalties were whistled in a one minute, forty-five second span, the Canes would capitalize with a 4-on-3 advantage.  Jeff Skinner pounced on a loose rebound off the chest of Caps goalie Braden Holtby to tap home his 11th goal of the season at 5:01 of the opening frame.

The Hurricanes were outshooting the Caps 14-nothing in the first eight minutes of the game and were it not for a few outstanding saves by Holtby, Washington could have been in much worse shape.

The Caps would sabotage their own power-play twice by taking penalties shortly into the man-advantage situation. Their fourth time with the power-play, however, would prove to be the charm.

Mike Ribeiro recognized that the Hurricane defense was taking away his passing lane to Alex Ovechkin, a more than wise move considering how hot the Capitals captain has been a man-up. Ribeiro waited for defenders to rotate away from Troy Brouwer before putting a soft pass to the interior of the Carolina man-down unit.  Brouwer drilled a 15-foot slapper past Justin Peters to tie the score at 8:08 of the second period.

Mike Green kept up his own scoring ways of late by putting the Caps on top less than three minutes after the equalizer from Brouwer. Green took a crisp pass out of the corner from Jay Beagle, moved in from the point to beat his defender wide, and then snapped a shot over the blocker of Peters to rack up his 9th goal of the campaign.

The rest of the night was dominated by Holtby, who drew rousing applause from the sell-out crowd at Verizon Center for his heroics in the third period. Holtby finished the night with a regular-season game career-best 43 stops.

The Caps would salt the victory with an empty-net goal from Brouwer, who fought through former Cap Alex Semin to insure the win with only six seconds left.

Washington continues to lead the Southeast Division by two points over Winnipeg.  The Jets kept pace with the Caps by pounding Florida, 7-2, at MTS Centre.

The Caps, winners of a season-best six games in a row, will take on Tampa Bay at home Saturday night.  That game comes your way on Comcast SportsNet at 7 p.m.