The Washington Capitals laid another tremendous egg on Friday night, falling at the hands of the cellar-dwelling Carolina Hurricanes 3-0 inside RBC center. Tomas Vokoun made 30 saves in a very solid performance, but Jussi Jokinen scored twice and Jiri Tlusty added a third as the Caps failed to pick up any momentum from their win over the Canadiens on Wednesday. It was the second time in three games that Washington has been shut out after not being shut out before Tuesday of this week.
Carolina got off to a hot start, forcing turnovers in the DC zone and making Vokoun play sharp early to keep the score deadlocked. After those chances, though, there was little offensive flair or opportunities, until Marcus Johansson drew a tripping call with 8:36 left in the opening frame.
After a very poor opening minute of a man advantage, it got worse quickly when Eric Staal poked the puck away from John Carlson and Jussi Jokinen collected the loose change and popped it past Vokoun for a shorthanded goal.
Washington got another opportunity to get into the game with another power play three minutes after Jokinen’s goal, but again came up with a pathetic effort, giving up more chances than they created and relying on Tomas Vokoun to save their bacon. The period ended with Washington down 1-0 and lucky not to be down much more.
The Caps came out nicely in the second period, generating a couple nice chances, but Mike Knuble hit the post with Cam Ward out of his goal and Jason Chimera made a bad pass on a 3-on-1 to eliminate those opportunities. It got worse with 13:43 left in the frame when Mike Knuble was sent off for holding.
Thankfully Washington was able to kill it off, and again tried to mount pressure on Ward, who began to make some very nice saves, in particular on Troy Brouwer. Past the midway mark of the period, though, Carolina began to take control again and drew a second power play when Matt Hendricks took an interference call. But Vokoun couldn’t hold the fort forever, and Carolina doubled the lead, again from Jokinen, with only 20 seconds left in the period, crushing Washington’s hopes.
Alex Ovechkin came oh-so-close to getting one back in the opening minute of the final period, crashing the net and just missing wide after a Dennis Wideman point drive put Ward on his back. The Caps, desperate as the clock began to work against them, continued to pressure, and Cody Eakin hit his second post of the night with 12 minutes remaining.
With exactly seven minutes left in the game, the Capitals got one final chance with a power play, but again gave up a shorthanded breakaway, though this time Eric Staal could not convert. Though Washington threw everything they could at Ward’s net as the game closed, they could not break through, even conceding another goal with 30 seconds left in the period. and had to swallow another very, very bad road game.
A disgraceful performance. The Capitals had a real chance to come in against one of the worst teams in the league and build some momentum coming off a nice shutout win inside the Bell Centre. Nope. The Caps looked lazy and disinterested from the beginning, making poor decisions and continuing their trend of looking great one night, and then awful the next. You don’t win consistently like that.
Every time I watch Alex Ovechkin play, it makes me a little bit more sad. What was once a dynamic, efficient, energetic player is now none of those things on a consistent basis. Yes, he has his moment,s and yes, he reminds us from time to time just how great he used to be. But after heating up around the turn of the new year, he’s gone ice-cold. Again.
Tomas Vokoun deserved this start in goal tonight and was superb; he was the only reason this game was not 5-0 at least. He is, without question, the top goaltender on this team. Period, end of story.
Harry Hawkings is a college student who covers the Caps for RtR. Follow him on Twitter here.