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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hurricanes bounce back but fall in OT to Capitals

Posted by on Sat, Oct 8, 2011 at 9:26 PM

FSN SOUTH (TV)—The Canes didn't take advantage of their overtime power play. The Capitals, however, capitalized on theirs.

Goalie Brian Boucher, seen here at a recent practice, made his Hurricanes debut in a 4-3 overtime loss at Washington.
  • Photo by D.L. Anderson
  • Goalie Brian Boucher, seen here at a recent practice, made his Hurricanes debut in a 4-3 overtime loss at Washington.
After an embarrassing opening-night loss at home Friday, the Carolina Hurricanes wanted to bounce back in Washington on Saturday, and bounce back they did. Except on the scoreboard, where the Washington Capitals did the Canes one better, 4-3.

Eric Staal put a forgettable Friday debut behind him, notching two power play goals and an assist. He was stronger in all areas of the ice: backchecking effectively, carrying the puck into the offensive zone with authority, and even holding his own in the faceoff circle.

But Mike Green scored halfway into the overtime period after Jussi Jokinen had notched a late goal to send it there. Nicklas Backstrom had a pair of assists.

Jeff Skinner assisted on all three Carolina goals, and Brian Boucher was sharp in his Canes debut, stopping 32 shots.

After a scoreless first, Staal finished a pretty passing play with the man advantage to give the Canes the early lead. Tomas Kaberle moved the puck across to Jokinen, whose promotion to the first power play unit seemed to click. Jokinen drove the net and slid the puck across the slot to an open Staal.

After a long period of outworking the Caps in all areas of the ice, the Canes let a cherrypicking Alexander Semin get behind the defense for a breakaway pass from John Carlson. Semin beat Boucherclean to tie the game.

Then Jason Chimera capped a hardworking Caps shift with under a half-minute in the second period to give the home team its first lead. But Carlson took a late delay of game penalty to let the Canes open the third up a man.

Staal needed just 19 seconds to tie the contest, capping a pass from Skinner with a rising shot. The teams seemed content to head to overtime, but Carolina had a few mistakes to make first.

With five minutes left, Joni Pitkanen took a needless boarding call. Then Brandon Sutter was whistled for a questionable trip to leave the Canes two men down for over a minute. The 5-on-3 edge allowed Alexander Ovechkin to rocket a point shot off the end boards for Brooks Laich to tuck behind Boucher with just under four minutes left in regulation.

But the Canes didn't give up. Staal dug the puck out of a scrum in the corner and backhanded it to Skinner. Skinner dragged the puck into the slot and scooted a nifty pass to Jokinen between the feet of the defender coming to meet him. And Jokinen waited until Caps goaltender Michal Neuvirth went down before he flicked it into the top half of the net to tie it with 1:19 on the clock.

As the regulation horn was sounding, Semin boarded Bryan Allen to give the Canes a 4-on-3 power play to start overtime. Almost immediately, Staal set up Jokinen with a cross-ice pass on the rush but Neuvirth came across the goal on his knees to absorb the shot. It was the first of several good chances that Neuvirth was equal to.

Action became frantic, as Laich came in on a partial breakaway that Boucher foiled with his glove. Play broke the other way, concluding with a wicker Skinner shot that Neuvirth turned out into the empty slot. Washington took it the other way and Jokinen took a holding penalty to keep a play from developing.

Once Semin emerged from the box, giving Washington a 4-on-3 advantage of their own, Mike Green found the winning shot on his stick, slapping a shot that emerged from under Boucher at half speed, skidding in to the net.

Despite the loss, the Canes get their first point in the standings and, as importantly, a full game of tenacious play under their belts. Next step, a win.

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The Canes didn't take advantage of their overtime power play. The Capitals, however, capitalized on theirs.

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