After winning the first three meetings, the Capitals could not complete the season sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday and were handed a one-sided 6-1 loss in Washington. Here are some observations from the game:
No season sweep
The Hurricanes entered Monday's game just one point behind the Florida Panthers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Despite that, however, they had lost all three meetings with Washington this season. The Caps, however, could not complete the sweep.
Still, Washington finished the season with a 3-1-0 record against the Hurricanes this season which is only significant because this could potentially be a preview of the first round of the playoffs.
The Caps sit in the second wild card spot in the East and that is where they will most likely finish. The second wild card team will play the top team in the conference in the first round of the playoffs which, after their win on Monday, is currently Carolina.
A rough start
It was clear early on that this was probably not going to be the Capitals' night. It took Derek Stepan less than three minutes to put Carolina on the board as a whiffed shot by Jesperi Kotkaniemi ended up setting Sepan up perfectly for the backdoor goal.
Five minutes later, Andrei Svechnikov fired a shot on Vitek Vanecek which he saved. The rebound, however, he ushered right to the middle where Vincent Trocheck was able to deliver a quick feed to Martin Necas for the 2-0 lead.
A controversial call
A two-goal deficit is hardly insurmountable, especially in just the first period. The Caps got an opportunity to respond on the power play later in the first. The power play, however, lasted less than a minute.
T.J. Oshie and Jordan Staal battled for position in front of the net. They got locked up and as Staal skated away, he gave Oshie's stick a tug to yank it out of his hands. Oshie went to retrieve his stick off the ice then whacked Staal's stick out of his hands.
As the saying goes, the referees always see the second penalty. Oshie was called or slash just as Alex Ovechkin fired a shot into the net. Not only did Oshie's penalty take away the power play, it took away a power play goal as well.
The knockout punch
Despite how rough the first period was for Washington, the Caps had an opportunity to turn the game around midway through the second. Tom Wilson trimmed the lead to 2-1 and Washington earned a power play four seconds later as Max Domi delivered a cross-check to Garnet Hathaway off the faceoff. The only team to score off that power play, however, would be Carolina.
Teuvo Teravainen flipped the puck into the neutral zone to clear the defensive zone. Sebastian Aho turned on the jets to get the puck and found himself in a footrace with Marcus Johansson who was speeding back to defend. Aho won that race, turned the corner on Johansson to cut to the net, then tucked the puck past the outstretched pad of Vanecek for the shorthanded goal.
That goal made the score 3-1 and really erased whatever momentum was building in favor of the Caps. Brett Pesce and Martin Necas would add two more for Carolina before the second frame was out and the boat race was on.
No one in red had a good night in this game and that includes Vanecek. He gave up five goals on 23 shots for a .783 save percentage and would not return to the crease in the third. Instead, Ilya Samsonov got to play the final period of the game. He stopped five of the six shots he faced.
Nic Dowd still out
For the second straight game, Nic Dowd was in the lines for the morning skate, but ultimately did not play in the game. He remains out with an upper-body injury that has kept him out of the lineups since March 18. Lars Eller, who originally skated at left wing on the third line, moved down to fourth line center in Dowd's absence.