The Capitals failed to beat the Carolina Hurricanes in two previous meetings this season, but finally broke through on Saturday in a 4-3 win thanks to some excellent goaltending from Ilya Samsonov. Carolina put on a barrage on net in the first and third periods, but Samsonov made a career-high 38 saves.
Here is how Washington won.
Ilya Samsonov was brilliant in net and was easily the best player of the game. Carolina came out once again with its forecheck and seemed to give Washington fits again. The Hurricanes fired 18 shots on goal in just the first period, but it did not cost Washington thanks to Samsonov. He made a number of calm saves to freeze the puck and a number for frantic, desperation saves.
For the game, Samsonov made a career-high 387 saves.
A third-line goal
Carolina dominated the first period, but it was the Caps who struck first. After weathering the first period, the third line struck early in the second to put Washington up 1-0.
Lars Eller picked up a loose puck off of a save by Samsonov and did not hesitate at all to break the puck out and thus not allow Carolina to set up the forecheck. As he exited the defensive zone, he passed the puck up to Richard Panik. Panik tried to muscle his way through Jake Gardiner to turn the corner on net, but Gardiner played him well. Panik tried a desperation backhand as he was being forced behind the goal line. Petr Mrazek made the initial save, but the rebound got knocked up in the air and bounced off of the trailing defenseman Brett Pesce who was engaged with Carl Hagelin and bounced into the empty net.
Big save on one end, a goal on the other
The Hurricanes have scored nine shorthanded goals and were looking to make it 10 in the second period as Dougie Hamilton had a breakaway opportunity on the Caps' first power play. As he skated in on net he tried to move to the backhand and go 5-hole. Samsonov was with him the whole way and knocked the puck away with his stick as he stretched out the pads. Washington retrieved the puck and set up the power play, finally converting as John Carlson faked a shot and passed it right to the tape of Evgeny Kuznetsov who tapped the puck in.
The play proved to be a two-goal swing as the Caps took a 2-0 lead instead of giving up a 1-1 tie.
The power play
The Caps converted on only 12.5-percent of their power play opportunities of the night. Things finally clicked on Friday As Kuznetsov and Lars Eller both scored on the man advantage. This game marks just the seventh time this season Washington has scored more than one goal on the power play this season.
2 early third period goals
It looked like the rout was on early in the third period. The Caps held a 2-0 lead entering the final frame, but Jordan Staal scored less than a minute in to spoil Samsonov's shutout bid. Then Eller scored on the power play less than two minutes later and Jakub Vrana scored less than three minutes after that.
At 4-1 in the third, game over, right? Not so fast.
Carolina came roaring back, scoring two power play goals to pull within one. They then released a barrage on Samsonov in a desperate attempt to get the game-tying goal, but Samsonov stood strong.
Vrana's goal felt like wind-dressing at the time, but proved to be the game-winner.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS:
- All-Star Game: Reirden named head coach
- Caps-Canes: Samsonov gets a shot
- Ovi to 700?: Biggest storylines to watch