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The Carolina Hurricanes blew into town on Friday night like a poorly mixed Bourbon Street cocktail carelessly strewn upon a curb by a drunken frat boy.
Would Washington be ready for them?
Here’s Friday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Defenseman Michal Kempny recorded his first goal as a Washington Capital! Way to go, Big Mike!
Minus: Juuuuuuuust about everything else.
And now, this...
Here’s Tom Wilson and TJ Oshie— HockeyKot (@hockeykot) March 30, 2018
( I’ll be back for Caps vs Pens ) pic.twitter.com/mjHyFhjkqy
Ten more notes on the game:
1. With Sidney Crosby’s goal lifting the Penguins to victory last night, the Washington Capitals have officially clinched a spot in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs! Oh, good, get your happy booze and your sad booze and keep both readily at hand. With only a division title to play for, would Washington come out on Friday night with any fire and/or brimstone?
2. Back in town tonight was former Capital and fan-favorite Justin Williams, Man of Glorious Locks and Funny Faces. Back in the line-up tonight for Washington were forwards Jakub Vrana and Chandler Stephenson, while Shane Gersich, after a debut on Wednesday that Barry Trotz called impressive, was a healthy scratch.
3. The Capitals came out strong in the first period, with excellent decision-making giving the hometown crowd reason to be optimistic. Braden Holtby looked sharp, making all 8 saves he was called upon to make in the frame. Even some familiar faces who haven’t always had their number called for good reasons put in strong showings.
A very, very effective defensive play by Brooks Orpik and I don't know if I recognize this 2018 but I am very, very into it.#CapsCanes— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) March 30, 2018
Oh man Vrana just did something subtle that shows how much he's grown.— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) March 30, 2018
He curled back with the puck after gaining the zone, and saw he had a teammate crashing from the blue line. His mouth watered. But THEN he saw that man's defender gaining on him, and dumped it back in.
4. The second period got off to a much more combustible start, like pouring lighter fluid on a bunch of other already-on-fire lighter fluid. Just two and a half minutes into the frame, cheap but effective defenseman Michal Kempny, the Kirkland Signature of blueliners, called his own number with a slapper from wayyyy north of the left circle. The massive claptrap beat goalie Scott Darling clean and found the back of the net to make it 1-0 Caps.
5. But just 40 seconds later, while joyous fans were still drinking deep from a cup called Life, Carolina’s Derek Ryan ripped a big fart in church, crashing Braden Holtby’s crease hard and knotting the game 1-1 before PA announcer Wes Johnson could even catch a breath.
6. Carolina continued to rock Washington like a-.......well, I don’t know, some sort of precipitous storm, all second period, dropping 16 shots to the Capitals’ four. Just past the halfway mark, an ugly shift from Chandler Stephenson kept the tired Capitals stuck in their own zone. Chand the Man couldn’t corral a center-ice pass, and Carolina’s Justin Faulk deked him out of his boots before rifling a snipe past Holtby to make it 2-1 Hurricanes at the final intermission.
7. The Capitals came fighting back in the third period, but a stymying forecheck by Carolina made opportunities scarce. Jakub Vrana got loose on a breakaway, but was chased down from behind and had his shot saved by Darling to keep it at 2-1, much to the dismay of fans of both the Capitals and handsome young Czech men everywhere.
8. What would end up being the dagger came with six minutes left in the game, as Sebastian “Your Mom’s” Aho asked Holtby how his sister was by way of a vicious wrist shot that gave the Canes a 3-1 lead late in the contest.
9. Add in an empty-netter by Brock McGinn, Guy With a Name Like A Disney Channel Teen, and you have your 4-1 Hurricanes victory.
10. Bright spots, bright spots, let’s see.... Well, the penalty kill was perfect, stopping the only chance it faced, and.....uh, well, that’s about it. PLAYOFFS, BABY!!!
As the Capitals limp this thing on in to the barn, next up is the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Sunday.