Tempers flared on both sides in the second when Jeff Skinner sent Orlov into the boards and the rookie blue-liner collapsed to the ice in a heap. The Capitals believed that Skinner slewfooted Orlov, trying to sweep the defenseman’s legs out from under him. Alex Ovechkin pursued and took a few swipes at Skinner and later Gleason. Once Skinner made his way back up ice, Orlov challenged the former rookie of the year and would earn a 10-minute misconduct in addition to matching roughing minors.
“I didn’t see the positioning of my feet,” Skinner said after the game. “I just sort of stood my ground. He tried to come hit me and slipped.”
The Post Sports Live crew discuss the Capitals' offensive ineptitude and debate about Dale Hunter's future with the team.
The Hurricanes took their first lead of the game at 3-2 1:45 into the third when Dennis Wideman misplayed the puck when Gleason shot a clearing attempt out of the Carolina zone. At the offensive blue line, Wideman tried to tip the puck into the corner but the puck hopped over his stick and created a breakaway for Brandon Sutter.
“It was just a bad read,” Wideman said. “Those are the plays that cost you playoff series, don’t let you get into playoffs. A bad play. I should have probably just backed up and took the two-on-one, one-on-one whatever it ended up being.”
With time winding down the Capitals showed the desperation required of a team fighting to make the playoffs. A nifty give-and-go between Marcus Johansson and Laich resulted in a tip-in goal for the latter to force overtime.
In the extra session, Wideman jumped up in the play and found himself down by the offensive goal line as the puck squirted out for a two-on-one rush for the Hurricanes. Sutter set up Justin Faulk for a goal that looked simple, because it was.
“I’m sick and tired of giving up easy goals,” Laich said. “We’re giving up goals that they don’t have to work to score. It’s killing us.”
Capitals notes: Fans of Mike Knuble, who was a healthy scratch for the eighth time in 13 games, brought signs to the arena to protest the winger being held out of the lineup. Knuble’s Knights held placards that read “Free Knuble” and “Scratch Hunter” up to the glass during warmups but were told by a member of the event staff and two security guards to take them down or the signs would be confiscated and destroyed. According to team officials, three players asked that the signs be taken down because they believed they were disrespectful to Hunter.