Skinner takes Canes past Caps with hat trick

Skinner takes Canes past Caps with hat trick
January 2, 2014, 9:45 pm
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Highlights: Capitals fall to Canes at Verizon Center

Carolina Hurricanes center Manny Malhotra (22) skates with the puck against the Washington Capitals in the second period at Verizon Center.

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night at Verizon Center:

How it happened: Jeff Skinner completed a hat trick 1:20 into overtime when he tapped a perfect pass from defenseman Ryan Murphy past Philipp Grubauer for the game-winner. An errant pass by Alex Ovechkin and a risky pinch by Dmitry Orlov allowed the Canes to break out on a 3-on-1 with Mike Green the lone man back.

What it means: The Caps’ lead on the Hurricanes shrunk from six to five and opened the door for the Flyers to tie them in the standings. The Flyers are playing in Colorado.

Line shuffle: Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer switched spots on the top two lines and both responded with goals. Ovechkin got the Caps on the board 49 seconds into the secnd period when he used defenseman Ron Hainsey as a screen and ripped a shot past the glove of goaltender Anton Khudobin, who was making his first start since Oct. 13. Brouwer scored next for the Caps, backhanding a Nicklas Backstrom rebound for his ninth of the season. Steve Oleksy also scored for the Caps.

Take the penalty: Ovechkin had a chance for his 32nd goal of the season when he was awarded his 11th career penalty shot after Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk hauled him down on a breakaway 3:40 into the second period. Ovechkin seemed indecisive during his approach to the net and Khudobin poked-checked the puck away to leave Ovechkin 2-for-9 in career penalty shots.

Save of the night: This goes to Caps defenseman John Carlson, who got his stick on a wraparound attempt by Canes defenseman Ryan Murphy late in the second period, preventing a certain goal and a 4-3 Carolina lead.

No Olympics for Orlov? A representative for the Russian Hockey Federation said between periods that Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov is not in contention to make the Russian Olympic team for the 2014 Winter Games. “Next one, yes,” he said. Told that Alex Ovechkin is still waiting for his Jan. 7 selection, the representative quipped, “Tell him he’s on the team.”

Ovechkin vs. Carlson: Ovechkin was asked what it will be like facing teammate John Carlson in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. “I have to make [Team Russia] roster,” Ovechkin said with a smile. “I’ll wait for that moment. You don’t know what will happen.” As for advice for Carlson, who has never been to Russia, Ovechkin offered this: “He’s going to be fine there. You’re going there to play hockey. You’re not there to sight-see and all that kind of stuff.”

Russia vs. USA: In that other international tournament being held in Malmo, Sweden, Russia eliminated Team USA with a 5-3 victory in the quarterfinal round of the World Junior Championships on Thursday. That means Caps prospects Riley Barber, Connor Carrick and Thomas DiPauli are coming home without a medal. Barber won a gold medal in last year’s WJCs. The Americans gave the Russians six power-play opportunities in the loss. “We know that coming in that it’s a tough referee tournament and we should’ve been more prepared for it,” Barber said. Barber also took a check to the head in the game and was upset at being taunted by Russians following their empty-netter. “It’s very disrespectful,” he said. Barber led the Americans with two goals four assists in five games.

Laich-ing it: Left wing Brooks Laich returned to the lineup after missing 14 of the previous 15 games with groin-related pain. He replaced Aaron Volpatti on the fourth line and killed penalties with Jay Beagle.

Give him a hand: Defenseman John Carlson received a standing ovation when he was recognized for being selected to the U.S. Olympic team. He is the first Capitals player ever to be selected to Team USA for the Olympics.

Look ahead: The Capitals will practice at Kettler Friday at 11 a.m. and are back in actionSaturday when they visit the Minnesota Wild. It’s the first time they’ll leave the Eastern Tome Zone since they played in Colorado on Nov. 10.