There's no doubt last night's game meant a lot more to the Hurricanes than it did to the Capitals, a consequence of the 'Canes still being in the process of fighting for their playoff lives, while the Caps, with their comfortable division lead, are anxious for the postseason to begin. As a result, fans might have expected the Hurricanes to come out flying in an effort to channel their desperation into energy and their energy into an early lead. It didn't quite play out like that, although the Hurricanes nonetheless were to able to gain an advantage by ensuring that the Capitals were going to have be willing to to do their dirty work - crashing the Carolina net, dumping the puck in deep and retrieving it, and clearing the front of their own net - if they wanted to win the game. Although the Capitals didn't exactly phone it in last night, they lost in part because their opponent wanted the two points more than they did.
Aside from the result, the biggest story of last night's game has to be the penalties by Joni Pitkanen and Rod Brind'Amour. The league and the player's association can talk all they want about protecting players from headshots and other dangerous plays, but when cross checks to the head are met with questionable even-up calls and hits from behind three feet from the boards are met with minor penalties, it becomes awfully hard to believe them.
Some additional thoughts on the game:
- Since snapping a four-game point steak on February 18th, Tomas Fleischmann has played 17 games, scored one goal, registered one assist, and has accumulated a -3 rating. Fleischmann also has just two goals in his last 29 games, one of which came on the powerplay. Yet Flash continues to get more ice time than Eric Fehr, both at even strength and on the powerplay. That just doesn't make sense, and it's getting very difficult to believe it's not hurting the team.
- Speaking of Flash, his presence on the penalty kill doesn't make much sense either. We'd much rather see Alexander Semin and Sergei Fedorov out there instead, as was the case last night.
- Give credit to Carolina's scorekeeper for trying to play up the "rivalry" angle by recording fifty hits, including two by Chris Bourque in less than five minutes of ice time, between the two teams. Any time Brian Pothier and Jeff Schultz are credited with three hits each, it'll raise a few eyebrows.
- Brooks Laich loves the blue paint. And we love him for it.
- On his first shift of the game, John Erskine stood up Erik Cole. Maybe Erskine's a better skater than we've been giving him credit for. Or maybe he just made a good play.
- Early in the third period Bruce Boudreau decided it was time to reunite the Care Bear line - and Alexander Semin turned the puck over just inside the Carolina blue line on the trio's first shift.
- Tom Poti had a very strong night on paper: he was the only Capital to be a plus player and he blocked four shots.
- The Caps had 32 shots on goal and missed the net 20 times. The 'Canes had 30 shots on goal and missed the net four times.
- Black third jerseys are passe and they take away from the uniqueness of a team. Who did the Capitals play last night, again? Was it Carolina? Or was it Phoenix? Chicago? Ottawa? San Jose? Screw that. Give me the good ol' Flyer orange any day.
On Tuesday the Capitals travel to Toronto to face a Maple Leafs team that has now won three of its last four and four of its last six. Let's hope the team shows a little more urgency then.