Michael Leighton, starting his third straight game in place of the injured Cam Ward, was challenged by coach Paul Maurice before the game and he responded, stopping 38 of 39 shots, while Eric Staal scored the game winner with 4:08 left as Carolina snapped a five-game home losing streak.
“It was a gritty win. I thought we competed extremely hard,” said Staal. “We’ll take it.”
Maurice improved to 1-1-1 as the Canes played for the third time in four nights under their new coach, showing more zip and an ability to finish that hasn't been seen in some time at the
Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, who each had seven points against Carolina in Washington’s previous two wins this season, didn’t figure in any offensive fireworks on this night as Ovechkin was limited to just one assist. Semin was one of nine
“The most dangerous job in
“Sometimes you have to fake it,” Maurice said when asked about the team’s mood on the bench after the tying goal. “They are aware that after goals there has been a big sag, so we’ve talked about having guys get up on the bench and start barking and start talking. Even if you feel insecure at the time you have to fake it sometimes. There was lots of talk and guys were trying to pump each other up.”
Staal, the MVP of last year’s NHL All-Star Game, came into the game with just six points in his last 16 games, but managed to free the puck behind the net and slip a wrap-around attempt past Jose Theodore. Ray Whitney added his second of the game 2:07 later to seal it for
“I thought he played a very complete game,” Maurice said of Staal, who notched the 18th game-winning goal of his career and his 299th point. “I’m glad he got rewarded in a game where he played both ends of the rink so well. That just kind of reinforces in his mind that it’s not about him cheating to score, he’s a good enough player where he can wait, and maybe the last three or four minutes of the game he’s a game breaker. He’s that good.”
The second period belonged to Leighton, who stopped 16 shots, including a penalty shot in the final 1.2 seconds against Ovechkin, who is now 0-for-5 in his career on penalty shots. Ovechkin was pulled down from behind by Pitkanen, who fanned on a shot with the Canes on the power play and had to try to chase down the
“I’ve seen what he’s done before and he usually tries to get it up,” Leighton said of Ovechkin’s penalty-shot style. “I just tried to come out and push him one way.
“It’s not a guy you want to give a penalty shot to, but sometimes you would rather have a chance to set up and get ready for it rather than him coming down the ice.”
Moments before the Ovechkin play, the Canes hit their second post of the period to keep the score at 1-0.
“I thought Michael played a very good game last night (in a 2-1 OT loss to
The Canes put together their most complete first period at home in a month, striking first for the first time in nine games at the RBC Center when Whitney picked up a rebound and slipped it past a sprawled Theodore with 6:42 left in the period. It was just the 17th first-period goal in 28 games for
NOTES: After five straight games without a point Whitney now has at least a point in each of his last three games. … Brett Carson was called up from