|WSH||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||5|
|CAR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
Canes Fall Short of Another Comeback
Flavor of the Game 700K
RALEIGH, N.C. (JAN. 18, 2007) - The recent domination of Southeast Division opponents hit a snag on Thursday for the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Canes came into their game against Washington 8-0-1 in their last nine games against the Southeast Division, a stretch that has seen Carolina gain ground on first-place Atlanta. But the Canes struggled to find any offensive rhythm in the first and second periods and, in the end, suffered a 5-2 loss to the Capitals.
The defeat was more lopsided than the final score indicates, since the Caps scored two empty-net goals in the final minute. However, Carolina fell behind early again for the third straight home game at the RBC Center, prompting a short post-game news conference by a frustrated coach Peter Laviolette.
"We were brutal," Laviolette said.
Carolina closed to 2-1 when Erik Cole slammed in a rebound two minutes into the third period and the Canes were outshooting the Capitals 11-1 before a Carolina defensive pinch in the Washington zone set Alexander Semin free on a breakaway. The red-hot Russian scored his second of the game with 10:27 left, signaling the beginning of the end for the Canes.
"We had to come out hard and we knew they were going to get some chances," said John Grahame. "When it's a close game like that you would like to come away with a breakaway save to help the team.
"He's very tricky and he's got a great shot and he was coming with speed," added Grahame. "I kind of slipped when I went to push across. Obviously I screwed up."
Eric Staal's deflection with 7:53 left gave Carolina a shot trailing just 3-2, but the Hurricanes couldn't mount much of a charge with Grahame pulled for an extra attack and Chris Clark scored his second of the game into the empty net with a minute left to seal it for Washington.
The Hurricanes had a golden opportunity to tie the score at 1-1 midway through the second period, but Eric Belanger never got a shot off on a shorthanded breakaway, holding on to the puck too long before it rolled off his stick.
Anton Babchuk then took a hooking penalty just seconds after Glen Wesley's infraction expired and Semin gave the Capitals a two goal lead just three seconds after the face-off. Semin is the hottest player in the NHL right now with 10 goals in his last seven games. After going three straight without allowing a power play goal, the Canes have now allowed one in each of their last four outings.
The Hurricanes had a chance to get back into the game, but failed on two second-period power plays that came after the Semin goal, managing just one shot.
Carolina was forced to go with just five defensemen for the final two periods after Niclas Wallin left with a lower body injury. Wallin has missed a total of 12 games over three different spans with various lower body injuries.
The Canes fell behind 1-0 with seven minutes left in the first on a bad break. Clark's high dump in from center ice was deflected by the stick of Tanabe, changing the puck's direction 30 feet from the net after Grahame had already vacated the crease for the corner clear. He couldn't recover in time as the puck slowly trickled into the goal as the fans groaned.
"It's just instinct," Tanabe said. "I've been playing the game for over 20 years and never had that happen once, over 20 years and it happens once and it just happens to go in our net. What are you going to do? Some nights you have good luck and some nights you have bad luck and that was bad luck. Good things could happen tomorrow."
"The first goal was tough for the way it happened, but it happened," Laviolette said.
Grahame had to be sharp most of the opening period as Washington peppered him with 17 shots, but Carolina had its share of chances. Two came from red-hot Justin Williams, who hit the post less than four minutes in and then nearly deflected the puck past Olaf Kolzig on Carolina's only power-play of the period. Dennis Seidenberg also had a golden opportunity 44 seconds before the Washington goal, but his wraparound attempt with Kolzig out of position hit the post and bounded away.
David Droschak is the former sports editor for the North Carolina bureaus of the Associated Press, the largest news-gathering organization in the world. In 2003, Droschak was named the North Carolina Sportswriter of the Year. The only writer in the Triangle to have covered the Carolina Hurricanes every season since the organization moved to North Carolina, he currently is a principal in the Raleigh-based public relations firm Hughes-Droschak Communications.
|Chris Clark (18) ASST: NONE|
1 - 0 WSH
|PPG - Alexander Semin (26) ASST: Dainius Zubrus (24)|
2 - 0 WSH
|Erik Cole (21) ASST: Mike Commodore (14), Eric Belanger (12)|
2 - 1 WSH
|Alexander Semin (27) ASST: Donald Brashear (5), Jamie Heward (6)|
3 - 1 WSH
|Eric Staal (20) ASST: Ray Whitney (34), Glen Wesley (7)|
3 - 2 WSH
|EN - Chris Clark (19) ASST: Matt Pettinger (12), Boyd Gordon (11)|
4 - 2 WSH
|EN - Alex Ovechkin (29) ASST: Shaone Morrisonn (6)|
5 - 2 WSH
|Justin Williams Diving against Steve Eminger|
|Steve Eminger Slashing against Eric Staal|
|Glen Wesley Interference against Boyd Gordon|
|Anton Babchuk Hooking against Brian Sutherby|
|Brian Sutherby Hooking against Ray Whitney|
|Lawrence Nycholat Hooking against Chad LaRose|
|SA: 36||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 34||EV: 32 - 34|
|PIM: 0||PP: 2 - 2|
|SV%: .944||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 28||TOI: 59:23|
|Saves: 25||EV: 21 - 23|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 5|
|SV%: .893||SH: 0 - 0|