Caps slow the Hurricanes' stride

Caps slow the Hurricanes' stride
March 22, 2013, 3:30 pm
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The Capitals may not have saved their season with a 3-2 comeback win last Thursday in Carolina, but it sure seems to have put a dent in the Hurricanes’ 2013 campaign.

Carolina was riding high entering last Thursday’s game against the Capitals, having gone 6-1 in their previous seven games to climb atop the Southeast Division standings.

The Hurricanes entered play last Thursday three points clear of the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the division and ten points up on the Capitals.

All seemed to be working in Carolina’s favor as the Hurricanes built a 2-0 first period lead over the Capitals last Thursday at PNC Arena. But the next 40 minutes would mark the beginning of a drastic change to the Hurricanes’ season.

First the Caps pulled within one early in the second period with a couple of unlikely sources hooking up on a goal as Aaron Volpatti fed Joey Crabb atop the crease. Volpatti and Crabb have since played just one game each for the Capitals. Crabb is no longer on Washington’s active roster.

Still, the Hurricanes led 2-1 going into the third period and were a perfect 11-0-0 this season when leading after 40 minutes. That is until Alex Ovechkin and Mike Ribeiro each scored in the third period last Thursday to help complete the 3-2 Washington comeback in regulation.

Instead of building a 12-point first place lead on the Capitals, the Hurricanes instead woke up last Friday just one point clear of Winnipeg (the Jets beat the New York Rangers 3-1 last Thursday) and eight points ahead of Washington.

Making matters worse for the Hurricanes- they haven’t won since. Beginning with the March 14 loss against the Capitals, the Hurricanes have lost five straight overall (0-4-1) having been outscored 16-6 over that stretch (does not include Rangers’ shootout tally).

Thanks to their five-game losing streak, Carolina has dropped to second place in the Southeast Division, two points behind Winnipeg. The Hurricanes are also now tied for the No.8 and No.9 seeds in the Eastern Conference with the Rangers, just five points up on the 12th seeded Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers.

The Hurricanes remain without No.1 goalie Cam Ward for the rest of the season due to a torn MCL, and in the final minute of Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils, Carolina backup goalie Dan Ellis suffered a lower-body injury which is expected to keep him sidelined for 7-10 days.

Carolina does not play again until next Tuesday, March 26 when they host the Southeast Division leading Jets.