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Recap: Hurricanes 4, Caps 3 (OT)

[AP Recap - GameCenter - Game Summary - Event Summary]

The Capitals should really be grateful that the Hurricanes started the season with such a whimper. If Carolina had been stronger out of the gate, they'd be battling for that coveted #8 spot - and setting themselves up for what would have been an extremely tough first round matchup for the Caps. Because regardless of the standings, Carolina has always proven to be a tough opponent for the Caps, and tonight was no exception.

Ten more notes on the game:

  • Joe Corvo's pair of goals in the second gives all three of the new Caps at least one goal since arriving in DC two weeks ago; in the eight games since the deadline they've combined for five goals and six assists. According to @washcaps, that's the 24th time this season the Caps have had someone score twice in the same period - and makes this multi-goal game #50 on the year.
  • What the Caps have lacked in penalty killing ability this year, they've often made up for with disciplined play - in fact, they're one of the least penalized teams in the League. That wasn't the case tonight, however, as they were whistled for five infractions (including one slightly BS goaltender interference call) and found themselves shorthanded four times, including a lengthy five-on-three that resulted in Carolina's only power play goal. 
  • About that lone power play strike - some would want to pin the goal on Tom Poti's stick being nowhere near any of the attackers in red. Others put the blame on Matt Bradley failing to clear the zone. I choose to do a little of both, while also grudgingly giving some credit to Eric Staal for finishing off a pretty decent play. 
  • Speaking of less evil Erics, Eric Fehr's 20th goal of the season couldn't have come at a better time, as he struck with just under ten seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime. It wasn't the prettiest shot in the world, but it counted. It also gave the Caps seven 20-goal scorers on the year so far - no other team has more than five (Vancouver).
  • With Alex Ovechkin out of the lineup, the top line generally seems to be missing a bit of a spark, an energy that Tomas Fleischmann simply can't replicate. Tonight, however, the spark on that line came courtesy of Nicklas Backstrom, who had a monster of a night. He only registered one shot on goal but picked up two assists, won 75% of his 16 faceoffs and led the team with four (!) hits.
  • All eyes have been on Semyon Varlamov's progression in net since returning from injury, and he does seem to get better each game. But while he was lights out for most of the night and made some huge saves, he also let in a very stoppable shot for Carolina's second goal and gave up an absolutely awful dribbler in overtime. He's still a work in progress...and Theo is still your #1 for another night.
  • Jason Chimera seemed to have everything going tonight except his timing; his speed led to a few breakaway chances and he continued to have great chemistry with Eric Fehr and Brendan Morrison, but it just wasn't connecting for big #25 tonight.
  • This Caps team can seemingly score at will, is filled with great skaters, has tremendous playmakers up and down the with all that speed and all the open ice available in which to use it, why are they so [Franceschetti]-ing awful 4-on-4?? 'Tis a puzzlement indeed.
  • Going one for three with the extra man is nothing to sneeze at; still, it certainly felt like the Caps could have struck on all of their power play chances tonight the way they were buzzing. Once they got set up in the zone they were nearly impossible to push back out, and executed several power play passing clinics that were pretty to watch - even if they never found the back of the net.
  • Wait, Jeff Schultz was a -1? Is that legal?
So for the third time in four meetings the Caps and Canes need extra time to decide the winner - and for the first time, Carolina comes out on top. It's a goal Varlamov would like to have back and a point the Caps would like to have captured, but overall it wasn't an awful performance by the good guys in white. A few mistakes here, a few bounces there and this game could end up differently.

Still, credit where credit is due - the Hurricanes simply wanted the win a bit more, and for tonight they get it. The Caps will have their chance a week from tonight when we reset, reshuffle and return to Raleigh for the final meeting of the season. 

Before then, however, there's a little business to attend to in Tampa Saturday night. Oh, and a certain Russian captain to welcome back, as well...

Game highlights: