By the time the Washington Capitals scored it had an almost mocking quality to it. Mike Green scored his first goal of the season in the third period, but by that time the Carolina Hurricanes had a 4-0 lead, and the Hurricanes won going away, 4-1, to end the Caps’ modest two game winning streak.
It was the Jeff Skinner show for the visitors to Verizon Center. Skinner potted a goal mid-way through the first period to give the Hurricanes the lead, then added a goal mid-way through the second period. On his next shift he added an assist on a power play goal by Andrej Sekera in the 15th minute of the period to give the Hurricanes a 3-0 lead. Jiri Tlusty added a goal less than a minute after the Sekera goal to end the Carolina scoring binge in the second period and the competitive portion of the evening.
Green spoiled Justin Peters’ shutout at 6:39 of the third period when he wristed a shot through a screen and past Peters’ glove, snapping a 24-game streak without a goal, but not nearly enough to make a game of it for the Capitals.
-- An equal opportunity provider, each Capitals defenseman was on ice for at least one Carolina goal. John Carlson and Nate Schmidt were on for two apiece.
-- When Carolina scored in the first period it marked the 16th time that the Caps allowed the first goal. Eight teams have allowed the first goal more often; none of them would qualify for the playoffs if they started today.
-- Two years ago, Jason Chimera hit the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career. With his assist on Mike Green’s goal last night he is on a pace to set a career high for assists. Last night’s helper was his 12th (tied for fourth on the club). He is on a pace for 35. His career high to date is 21 with Columbus in 2006-2007.
-- Some years ago there was a player who was once a pretty decent scorer, but by the end of his career had become pretty much a one-note wonder – Yanic Perreault, who three times in his career topped 50 points, but was largely a faceoff specialist by the end of his career. Injuries have done to Manny Malhotra what time did to Pereault, but Malhotra is very good at his craft. He did not attempt a shot last night, but he was 9-for-14 in defensive zone draws.
-- Last night was the seventh time this season the Caps had five or more power plays. They are now 3-3-1 in those games.
-- It was also the 13th time the Caps allowed four or more power plays; they are 6-6-1 in those games.
-- Last night was the third time Braden Holtby was pulled from a game this season, the first time in a game in which Calgary was not the opponent. Let’s hope he confines this to teams from cities with names starting with “C” in the alphabet.
-- It was Philipp Grubauer’s third NHL appearance. In two relief stints, including last night, he as a combined 23 saves on 23 shots in 45 minutes of ice time.
-- Justin Peters is now 4-3-0, 1.67, .938, with two shutouts against the Caps in his career. Against everyone else he is 16-26-5, 3.29, .899, with one shutout. Does the term "Cap Killer" come to mind?
In the end, the Caps lost a game they should have won…on paper. But “paper” was almost the resistance threshold for Braden Holtby in his 40 minutes of work. The first two goals allowed are goals that should not be allowed, not to that team. Jeff Skinner is a nice little player, but he isn’t Pavel Bure.
This is part of what is a disturbing emerging trend with Holtby. Lately, he is either very good (four times in his last seven appearances allowing two or fewer goals), or he is not (three times in those seven appearances allowing four or more goals). The Caps have issues with possession, although last night was not one of their usual struggles in that regard. They do not need issues in goal on top of that. It would make for a combustible mix that would result in fireworks in the Capitals’ end of the ice. Fortunately, they have four days to work these things out.