|WSH||0||0||0||0||1 (1 - 3)||3|
|CAR||0||0||0||0||0 (0 - 3)||2|
The Carolina Hurricanes can almost reach out and touch the Southeast Division trophy – just not quite yet.
The Canes lost to the Washington Capitals 3-2 in an overtime shootout Tuesday night, gaining a valuable point in the division race over its nearest competitor. And with five games left in the regular season, Carolina leads the Caps – a team that just won’t go away -- by four points.
“We’ve put ourselves in a good position, but we don’t want to let our foot off the gas,” said Cam Ward, who was making his 15th straight start. “We want to keep pressing. We want to win the division, so in order to do that you need to bear down in the last couple of games.”
Ward tied his career high with 42 saves, including six in overtime, as the Canes were outshot 6-0 in the extra five-minute period. However, Eric Staal hit the post as Carolina’s third shooter in the shootout and Washington’s Viktor Kozlov scored on Ward to keep the Caps alive in the division race and Eastern Conference playoff chase.
“I thought I had it,” Staal said. “I saw a lot of net there and I don’t think he moved very much. I just ended up ringing it off the post. It was one of those things where it just didn’t bounce our way tonight.”
Well, it actually did, as both of Carolina’s goals were unconventional in nature. But the Canes allowed a season-high 44 shots and lost the battle in the face-off circle badly in this one, snapping a four-game home winning streak.
Despite the shootout loss, the red-hot Canes are 8-1-1 in March and have registered at least one point in 16 of the last 19 games as the postseason approaches.
“The point we got was an important point and the point we gave up was important, so it’s still a loss, we need to win hockey games,” said coach Peter Laviolette. “Regardless of what happened tonight there was still going to be work to be done. Now, Friday’s game becomes very important and the focus of our team. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready to get the win.”
The Canes, with 88 points, still control their own destiny with homes games left against Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Florida, and road contests at Washington and Tampa Bay.
“It’s going to be a battle right down to game No. 82 and we knew that coming in,” said defenseman Glen Wesley.
The Caps scored twice in less than three minutes midway through the second to grab a 2-1 lead, the second goal coming off the stick of Alexander Ovechkin, who notched his NHL-best 61st of the season and sixth against Carolina in seven games.
But the Canes got one late in the period on a controversial power-play goal by Erik Cole, who circled in front of the net and was checked into Cristobal Huet as the puck appeared to trickle into the net. No goal was called on the ice, but after a lengthy video replay Cole had his 22nd and Carolina a tie game heading into the final 20 minutes.
“Their momentum didn’t last long, we responded well,” Ward said. “You can’t put a team like that on a 5-on-3, it’s tough to kill off.”
The Caps came out firing but Ward was up to the task early, stopping four shots on a Washington power play and 10 attempts in the opening 7:25. Late in the period, Ovechkin hit the crossbar as Ward fended off another Washington flurry en route to 13 saves in the opening 20 minutes.
The Canes grabbed the 1-0 lead in the final 13.3 seconds of the first with Alexander Semin off for hooking. A shot from the point by Jeff Hamilton took a 45-degree turn off the left skate of Washington’s Boyd Gordon 40 feet from the net and made its way through a maze of players and past a surprised Huet, who never saw the puck. It was Hamilton’s first goal since Feb. 18 after spending the better portion of the last month in the minors.
NOTES: Patrick Eaves missed the game because of an illness…. Fourteen of Hamilton’s 22 points have come on the power play. … Carolina has 17 power-play goals in its last 13 games. … Ward was 4-0 against Washington this season with a 1.75 GAA and .949 save percentage entering the game. … Carolina is now 17-8-2 against the Southeast Division. … The last time Carolina allowed at least 40 shots was Dec. 20 at Florida.
|PPG - Jeff Hamilton (7) ASST: Joe Corvo (31), Eric Staal (41)|
1 - 0 CAR
|PPG - Alexander Semin (23) ASST: Sergei Fedorov (24), Nicklas Backstrom (51)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Alex Ovechkin (61) ASST: Nicklas Backstrom (52), Viktor Kozlov (33)|
2 - 1 WSH
|PPG - Erik Cole (22) ASST: NONE|
2 - 2 Tie
|1||J. Hamilton||A. Semin|
|2||S. Samsonov||A. Ovechkin|
|3||E. Staal||V. Kozlov|
|Sergei Samsonov Hi-sticking against Milan Jurcina|
|Steve Eminger Holding against Scott Walker|
|Alexander Semin Hooking against Scott Walker|
|Trevor Letowski Holding against Sergei Fedorov|
|Eric Staal Tripping against Nicklas Backstrom|
|Jeff Schultz Hooking against Tim Gleason|
|Alex Ovechkin Roughing against Tim Gleason|
|Eric Staal Tripping against Shaone Morrisonn|
|Trevor Letowski Tripping against Sergei Fedorov|
|Erik Cole Hooking against Mike Green|
|SA: 27||TOI: 65:00|
|Saves: 25||EV: 18 - 18|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 6|
|SV%: .926||SH: 3 - 3|
|SA: 44||TOI: 65:00|
|Saves: 42||EV: 34 - 35|
|PIM: 0||PP: 8 - 9|
|SV%: .955||SH: 0 - 0|