The Washington Capitals faced off Tuesday night against their fellow Metropolitan division rival Carolina Hurricanes and it did not end well. The start of the game was not so bad for the Caps, going into the second period only down one to the Canes. Jeff Skinner scored his first goal of the night on the short side of the net, one that Braden Holtby would certainly like to have back. It was not Holtby’s best night so far this season.
The Caps started with plenty of scoring chances early and throughout the first period, but were unable to finish. Washington outshot Carolina 23-14 in shot attempts at the conclusion of the first period, but still unable to score. The Capitals generated momentum heading into the second period with still over a minute left on their first power play of the game. There were four solid scoring chances on their power play in the second period, but the Caps still came up empty-handed. A game that was so close for the first half was about to be blown open by the opposition. At the 11:18 mark in the second period, Jeff Skinner recorded his second goal of the night. It was a shot from the outside near the center of the faceoff circle, another one that Holtby should have had. Shortly after the Canes second goal of the night, Mikhail Grabovski was called for a tripping minor after a turnover. Andrej Sekera was the goal scorer on the power play for the Hurricanes, giving Carolina the 3-0 lead in the Verizon Center. After the third goal, just under a minute later, Jiri Tlusty on a nifty backhand put the game out of reach with the fourth tally of the night. The Caps have comeback twice for victories in their last two games, but this lead was insurmountable for Washington.
It was not a good loss for the Caps at home as the rest of the Metropolitan division, including the Hurricanes, are starting to gain ground on the leaders of the division. They have lost five of their last seven games, leaving plenty of points out there. There are several reasons the Caps have struggled as of late and one of the main reasons has been the struggling power play. The Caps generate a lot of momentum and scoring chances from their power play, which is consistently one of the best in the league. That has not been the story as of late. In their last eleven games, the Caps are 5-37 in the power play, which has led to a 5-5-1 record in those eleven games. The Capitals did manage to score a power play goal in the third period against the Hurricanes, Mike Green’s first goal of the season. Green has had a rough start to the first quarter of the season, but now that he has found the back of the net, maybe this will generate a spark in his game. Green has been known as a streaky scoring defensemen and is definitely a player that can help rejuvenate the power play. Not only was the power play a struggling unit, but Braden Holtby struggled all night as well. He has been called upon a lot as of late to start games due to Michael Neuvirth being injured. It is possible the increased workload showed its wear and tear Tuesday night because Holtby is usually much better between the pipes. Philipp Grubauer came in for the third period and was pretty impressive. He came in to start the third period facing a Carolina power play right from the get go. He did not allow a goal during the period and finished with eight saves. If Grubauer can possibly step in there soon to give Holtby a game or two off, that would be great for the team. Washington is now 5-4 on the season against their Metropolitan division opponents. The Capitals will look to shake off this bad home loss and look to rebound this Saturday against the Nashville Predators at the Verizon Center.