Caps Wilt Despite Help From Ovechkin, Opponent

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 13, 2005

RALEIGH, N.C., Oct. 12 -- Another goal by rookie Alex Ovechkin, and one gifted to them by a Carolina defenseman, wasn't nearly enough for the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.

Carolina rallied twice from one-goal deficits early, then poured it on late at RBC Center, where the Hurricanes thumped the Capitals, 7-2, in front of 10,968.

"I thought we were in the game until the third," veteran defenseman Brendan Witt said. "We haven't been a very good third-period team. We're not willing to work. I don't think our work ethic is very good in the third."

Ovechkin gave the Capitals a 1-0 first-period lead, then in the second, Hurricanes defenseman Niclas Wallin mistakenly passed the puck into his own goal from center ice to put Washington ahead 2-1. Wallin attempted to pass the puck back to his goaltender, not realizing Cam Ward was headed to the bench because of a delayed penalty.

But instead of turning the game in Washington's favor, Wallin's gaffe motivated Carolina. Moments later, Eric Staal scored on the power play to tie the game at 2.

The inexperienced Capitals never recovered.

"It was big to go back out there after one of those fluke things," Carolina Coach Peter Laviolette said. "It was nice to see us immediately pick that one up for him."

Capitals Coach Glen Hanlon said: "Yeah, I thought it was a good game until the fourth goal. That was kind of a backbreaker."

Staal's goal was the first of six consecutive scores for Carolina, which tallied three times on seven power-play opportunities. The Capitals' power play, meantime, went 0 for 6 and their goalie, Olie Kolzig, made 19 saves before being pulled following the Hurricanes' sixth score.

"When you get a goal given to you, it's usually a good sign," left wing Jeff Friesen said. "We had some chances, but we have to find ways to execute those chances, especially on the power play."

The Capitals were without Jeff Halpern, their leader and one of their top offensive threats. He was observing Yom Kippur. And they were younger than usual on defense, with 20-year-old rookie Mike Green making his NHL debut.

But those two factors had little to do with the Capitals' third lopsided loss of the season. Last weekend, they suffered 7-3 and 8-1 drubbings at the hands of the Atlanta Thrashers. Carolina, meantime, hadn't scored seven goals at home since 2001.

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