Penalty-Prone Capitals Are Clobbered at Carolina

Cam Ward
Conn Smythe Trophy winner Cam Ward stops 20 shots on goal for the Hurricanes. (Gerry Broome - AP)
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 10, 2006

RALEIGH, N.C., Nov. 9 -- Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals came to RBC Center feeling good about themselves following back-to-back victories. That brief era of good feeling ended with a loud thud Thursday, at the hands and skates of the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes.

Hurricanes left wing Erik Cole scored three goals and goaltender Cam Ward stopped 20 shots as Carolina dismantled the penalty-prone Capitals, 5-0, before a packed house. The loss was Washington's most lopsided this season.

"I don't know what happened," said Ovechkin, who had recorded four goals in his previous two games. "We don't move. We don't control the puck. We don't play like we can play."

That didn't apply to Capitals goalie Brent Johnson, who did everything to give his teammates a chance. The backup, playing for the third consecutive game, finished with 34 saves and was the only reason the overmatched visitors hung around for as long as they did.

As late as the final two minutes of the second period, the Hurricanes clung to a 1-0 lead, despite out-playing the Capitals for lengthy stretches.

"This is a lot better for us to lose this game 5-0 than for Johnny to make four more incredible saves and us walk out of here kidding ourselves that it was a 1-0 hockey game," Capitals Coach Glen Hanlon said. "As coaches, it loads us with lots of ammunition. The turning point obviously was the second period when we couldn't score on the power play and managed only three shots or four shots with all those five-on-threes."

Ovechkin and the Capitals had a two-man advantage for two minutes -- and 3 minutes 45 seconds of consecutive power-play time -- but could not squeeze a single shot past Ward. During one sequence, the Carolina netminder thwarted Alexander Semin, Ovechkin and Dainius Zubrus, the Capitals' best players, on consecutive shots.

The capacity crowd jumped to its feet; the Capitals hung their heads.

"It's not the position we want to be in, but we executed pretty well," Carolina Hurricanes Coach Peter Laviolette said. "We got [some] big saves from Cam."

Ovechkin said: "Ward play great. We don't have luck."

Later in the period, the Hurricanes took a 2-0 lead on a fluky bounce off of Cole, whose second goal of the game appeared to deflect off of his shoulder at 18:03.

"They are Stanley Cup champions for a reason," Capitals defenseman Bryan Muir said. "It's a measuring stick for us. We know what it takes to beat teams of this caliber and the improvements we have to make. Now we just have to do it."

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