Friday, January 26, 2007

Capitals Crash and Burn

Washington Can't Stay Out of the Box, Carolina Makes Them Pay
Carolina Hurricanes 6, Washington Capitals 2

Everything looked to be going their way. Alex Ovechkin had just recorded his 30th goal of the season and the team had recovered from a slow start to tie the game at two just 54 seconds into the second period. But then the penalty bug bit them and a pair of inexcusable plays by center Jakub Klepis swung the momentum in the Hurricanes favor for good.

A goaltender interference penalty by Klepis was quickly followed by a Chris Clark hooking call that gave Carolina a two man advantage. Erik Cole helped the Caps out by taking down defenseman Shoane Morrisonn just after Boyd Gordon had just won a key faceoff inside the Caps zone, ending the five on three situation. They seemed to have escaped a very tenuous situation when Klepis' penalty expired. However, immediately after leaving the box, Klepis took a silly hooking penalty and was sent right back to the box. The Hurricanes would capitalize on the gift as Justin Williams scored on the four on three man advantage for his second on the night and 25th of the season. For his actions, Klepis was benched for the rest of the game after totaling only 2:38 of ice time.

Later in the second period Steve Eminger would save the day momentarily for the Caps. After a chaotic scramble in front of Johnson the puck squirted past the goaltender and was moving slowly towards the empty net when Eminger cleared the puck off the goal line with his right glove. A fight between Chris Clark and Scott Walker ensued and the captain held his own despite trying his best to protect his recently repaired jaw. It was a gutsy effort by Clark who, earlier in the night, had gotten the Caps on the board redirecting a Danius Zubrus pass off his left skate past goaltender Cam Ward into the back of the net for his 20th goal of the season. It is the second consecutive 20 goal season for Clark.

Washington was unable to take advantage of Eminger's save as the Hurricanes would score two goals just ninety seconds apart in the last five minutes of the second period on goals by Justin Williams and Ray Whitney. An Eric Staal goal, his 23rd of the season, just 1:17 into the third period destroyed any idea the Capitals had of making a comeback.

Carolina got on the board first when traditional Cap killer Rod Brind'Amour burst in the offensive zone and flew past a flat-footed Eminger to the slot beating Brent Johnson with a backhand shot for his 14th goal of the season. Justin Williams would add another goal just five minutes later on a hard slap shot after he entered the Caps' zone unchallenged making it 2-0.

Game Notes:
Jeff Schultz recorded his first career point when he assisted on Clark's goal.... Justin Williams had two goals and one assist on the night.... Ovechkin's goal extended his point scoring streak to 10 games.... Both of the Caps' affiliates also lost last night as Hershey lost in overtime to Norfolk 5-4 and South Carolina lost at Texas 6-3.

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