For Caps, Hurricanes, Not Much Has Changed in 8 Days

Brian Pothier; Rod Brind'Amour
The Hurricanes' Rod Brind'Amour (right) scores on a power play in the second period to put the Hurricanes ahead of the Capitals, 2-0, for a lead that would go unchallenged. (Mitchell Layton - AP)
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 18, 2006

For anyone wondering how the youthful Washington Capitals stack up against the defending Stanley Cup champions, the answer can be summed up in two words: not well.

Erik Cole, Rod Brind'Amour and the Carolina Hurricanes blew out the Capitals, 4-1, last night at Verizon Center, eight days after winning, 5-0, in Raleigh, N.C.

Asked whether the lopsided scores were indicative of the Capitals' level of play or the Hurricanes', goaltender Olie Kolzig said: "It's a combination of both. They are a tough team to play against. It's tough to say about a Stanley Cup champion team, but they are much improved from the beginning of the season."

The Capitals' pride, however, wasn't the only thing that got hurt in front an announced crowd of 12,683. Alexander Semin aggravated what's believed to be a shoulder injury late in the second period and did not return.

General Manager George McPhee would not comment on the extent of Semin's injury, but said he may be forced to recall a fill-in from Hershey of the American Hockey League for tonight's game against the Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston. Semin, who hasn't scored in 12 games, wasn't expected to make the trip.

Also not traveling with the team was captain Chris Clark, who missed last night's game after getting at least two teeth knocked out by a puck in a game on Wednesday.

The injuries will leave the Capitals without two of their best players at a critical time -- on the road, looking to snap a two-game slide and to put last night's forgettable performance behind them.

Cole and Brind'Amour (four points apiece) broke open a scoreless game in the second period when they scored power-play goals 1 minute 46 seconds apart to put the Hurricanes ahead for good.

"They're the champions," Capitals Coach Glen Hanlon said. "They played well and we're 1-2 against them. We were better than we were down there [last week], but not good enough to win."

Kolzig made 25 saves; Carolina's John Grahame finished with 21.

Meantime, Washington's leading scorer, Alexander Ovechkin, was kept off the scoreboard for the second consecutive game.

Without Clark, Hanlon was forced to make several changes to his lineup, the biggest of which was putting Richard Zednik on the right side of the first line with Ovechkin and Zubrus. Zednik got his third goal of the season on the power play midway through the third period.

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