|WSH||2||1||0||(0 - 0)||3|
|CAR||1||3||2||(0 - 0)||6|
Separation. It’s something the Carolina Hurricanes have been searching for the last three months.
Well, the Canes now have some space in the Southeast Division after a three-day period produced wins over closest competitors Atlanta and Washington, extending the lead to six points over the Caps and seven against the Thrashers pending Atlanta’s outcome at Toronto tonight.
The Hurricanes disposed of the Capitals on Saturday 6-3, matching a season-high with four power-play goals while holding NHL leader Alexander Ovechkin without a goal.
“It was intense right off the bat and it felt like a playoff game pretty much the whole way through,” said Eric Staal. “We competed hard and it was obviously a big win for our team. It’s something we want to continue to build on.”
It was also the third straight game in which the Canes registered at least 40 shots, getting 42 in this one to improve to 6-0-1 in their last seven games at the RBC Center.
“We’re just putting everything on the net and crashing,” said Joe Corvo, who scored his first goal as a Carolina player 7:44 into the third to ice the key win. “There are not a lot of restrictions here and I sort of have the green light to jump into plays. It’s fun hockey.”
The Canes were outshooting the Caps 12-2 in the period before Gleason was slapped with an interference penalty, giving Washington’s power play another chance at Cam Ward. The Caps took advantage, trying the score for the third time at 3-3 on a goal by Brooks Laich.
But Staal notched his 30th late in the second to give the Canes some momentum and the lead heading into the third, a period in which they’ve dominated all season with an NHL-best 77 goals. Staal picked up a loose rebound and emptied the puck into a wide open net to match his goal total of last year with 17 games remaining.
Andrew Ladd poked home his ninth of the season 3:50 into the third to give the Canes a two-goal cushion. Once again, the goal was produced by the skating of Sergei Samsonov, who circled away from a Washington defender in the corner before feeding Tim Conboy for a shot. Conboy, with two assists in his previous six NHL games, notched two in this important division matchup as the minor-league call-ups from Albany continue to shine.
Four minutes later, Corvo scored the team’s fourth with the man advantage. The power-play outburst came against a team that hadn’t been scored on shorthanded in 22 chances spanning six games.
“When you’re doing things the right way on the power play and you’re attacking and there is movement there are a lot of shots, so my last words when we left the meeting today was ‘Keep doing the same thing, they’re going to drop’ and they sure did tonight,” coach Peter Laviolette said.
“We felt like we were getting close the last few games,” added Corvo. “We felt like we were close to the dam breaking.”
Carolina tied it 1-1 with 6:36 left in the first when Cullen’s slap shot found its way through a maze of players to beat Olaf Kolzig. It was the first power-play goal since the Canes went 3-for-6 with the man advantage in a 4-2 win over Pittsburgh six games ago.
The Canes had a two-man advantage over the final 43.5 seconds of the first, but couldn’t crack Kolzig despite buzzing around the Washington net and went into the locker room trailing 2-1.
The second Washington goal came on the power play and off the stick of red-hot Alexander Semin, whose shot actually deflected off the stick of Carolina defenseman Glen Wesley and past Ward. Wesley later left and didn’t return after taking a hit. Laviolette said the 20-year NHL veteran defenseman didn’t feel good enough to return to the ice.
The Canes fell behind 1-0 early in the first when the Caps broke out on a 4-on-2 break led by Ovechkin, who slid a nice pass over to Mike Green for his 16th of the season. Less than a minute earlier, Ward kept Washington off the board with a great glove save on Semin after the first of a series of turnovers that allowed the Caps to outshoot the Canes 9-1 nine minutes into the game.
Ovechkin assisted on the first three Washington goals, giving him 27 points in 22 career games against the Canes.
“We know where the other teams are, they’ve been on our backs,” Bret Hedican said. “We think that of all the other teams (in the Southeast) Washington is a very good hockey team and we gave them a lot of respect. They came out and had a little bit of a jump, we settled down and got to our game and ended up taking it to them.”
NOTES: The last time the franchise recorded 40 or more shots in three straight games was March 1987. … Carolina scored three or more power-play goals for the sixth time this season. … Trevor Letowski played in his 600th career game. … Cullen matched his point total (41) last season in 80 games with the Rangers with his first goal. … Cullen also won 11 of 12 face-offs. … Tim Gleason blocked a team-high five shots and now has 91 on the season. … Ray Whitney has nine points in his last five games. … The Canes dropped the Caps to 0-23-2 when trailing after two periods.
|Mike Green (16) Backhand shot - ASST: Alex Ovechkin (31)|
1 - 0 WSH
|PPG - Matt Cullen (10) Slapshot - ASST: Ray Whitney (33), Joe Corvo (24)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Alexander Semin (18) Deflected shot - ASST: Alex Ovechkin (32), Tomas Fleischmann (17)|
2 - 1 WSH
|PPG - Matt Cullen (11) Wrist shot - ASST: Erik Cole (23), Joe Corvo (25)|
2 - 2 Tie
|PPG - Erik Cole (15) Wrist shot - ASST: Eric Staal (27), Ray Whitney (34)|
3 - 2 CAR
|PPG - Brooks Laich (11) Slapshot - ASST: Alex Ovechkin (33), Mike Green (24)|
3 - 3 Tie
|Eric Staal (30) Wrist shot - ASST: Sergei Samsonov (12), Tim Conboy (3)|
4 - 3 CAR
|Andrew Ladd (9) Wrist shot - ASST: Tim Conboy (4), Sergei Samsonov (13)|
5 - 3 CAR
|PPG - Joe Corvo (7) Wrist shot - ASST: Eric Staal (28), Matt Cullen (32)|
6 - 3 CAR
|Wade Brookbank Fighting (maj) against Donald Brashear|
|Donald Brashear Fighting (maj) against Wade Brookbank|
|Mike Green Roughing against Erik Cole|
|Andrew Ladd Slashing against Matt Pettinger|
|Sami Lepisto Hooking against Keith Aucoin|
|Shaone Morrisonn Hooking against Ray Whitney|
|Tomas Fleischmann Hooking against Bret Hedican|
|Tom Poti Cross checking against Scott Walker|
|Tim Gleason Interference against Alexander Semin|
|Andrew Ladd Tripping against Shaone Morrisonn|
|Erik Cole Hi-sticking against Alex Ovechkin|
|Viktor Kozlov Hi stick - double minor against Tim Gleason|
|SA: 42||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 36||EV: 22 - 24|
|PIM: 0||PP: 14 - 18|
|SV%: .857||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 34||TOI: 59:56|
|Saves: 31||EV: 27 - 28|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 6|
|SV%: .912||SH: 0 - 0|