Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 3-0 win over the visiting Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night at Verizon Center.
How it happened: Nicklas Backstrom scored his first power-play goal of the season in the opening period and set up John Erskine’s second goal of the season just 31 seconds into the second period. The Caps then erected a wall around Braden Holtby and skated away with their second shutout win of the season. John Carlson finished things off with his third goal of the season, just after a power-play expired.
What it means: The Capitals concluded their three-game homestand with a 2-1-0 record, splitting with the Devils and beating the Hurricanes to draw within four points of the Carolina, who lost for the fourth time in give games.
Welcome back Alexander: Hurricanes forward Alexander Semin heard a cascade of boos every time he touched the puck but the 28-year-old Russian brought the fans to the edge of their seats about 3 minutes into the game with a shorthanded breakaway. Semin seemed to wait a split-second too late and his wrist shot was smothered by Holtby.
And the other Alex: Alex Ovechkin was held without a shot on goal for the first time this season but he drew a holding penalty on Jussi Jokinen that led to Nicklas Backstrom’s first-period power-play goal. Ovechkin last went an entire game without a shot in Game 5 against the Rangers last season. He recorded at least one shot in every game he played last season. The last time he was held without a shot in a regular season game was March 18, 2011 against the Devils.
Save of the game: Midway through the second period Cam Ward made one of the finest saves you’ll see, extending his catching glove to stop Joel Ward on an open net. Nearly everyone behind the Hurricanes net thought it was a goal, including the goal judge, who turned on the red light and sounded the horn. The force of Ward’s shot bent Ward’s glove backwards and the puck harmlessly rolled away from the crease.
Injury update: Defenseman Mike Green returned to the lineup after missing the previous three games with a groin injury. Forwards Jason Chimera [lower body] and Nicklas Backstrom [illness] also were cleared to play, keeping callup Casey Wellman out of the lineup. With Green back, Caps coach Adam Oates elected to make defensemen Jeff Schultz and Roman Hamrlik his healthy scratches. The Hurricanes were without center Jeff Skinner [concussion], defenseman Jamie McBain [upper body] and defenseman Joni Pitkanen [lower body].
Orlov update: The Caps received good news when defenseman Dmitry Orlov was cleared for contact for the first time sine suffering a concussion on Dec. 6. Orlov is expected to participate in full practices with the Bears for the next two weeks. At that point it will be determined when he can be cleared for game action.
Looking ahead: The Caps return to action Wednesday night when they make their first of two visits to Philadelphia this season. The Flyers [9-11-1] are 5-3-0 at the Wells Fargo Center and on Tuesday they re-acquired veteran left wing Simon Gagne from the Los Angeles Kings.