Capitals Manage Only 10 Shots, Fall to Hurricanes

Brent Johnson
Washington goalie Brent Johnson dives but is unable to save Eric Staal's shot during Carolina's win on Thursday. The Hurricanes outshot the Capitals, 39-10. (Karl B. DeBlaker - AP)

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By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 23, 2007

RALEIGH, N.C., March 22 -- Alex Ovechkin ended a four-game goal drought, scoring his 42nd and 43rd of the season Thursday night.

But that's about all that went right for the undermanned Washington Capitals, who mustered only 10 shots on goal, surrendered a third-period lead and fell, 4-3, to Eric Staal and the Carolina Hurricanes at a sold-out RBC Center.

Washington's paltry shot total marked a season low for the injury- and trade-depleted club, which has dropped two straight and 11 of 13. The Hurricanes, meantime, equaled a franchise record for the fewest shots allowed and squeezed just enough past Capitals backup goaltender Brent Johnson (35 saves) to remain in a tie for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

"They are a desperate hockey team over there," Capitals Coach Glen Hanlon said. "They had to win."

Still, it could have gone the other way. Ovechkin's second goal put the visitors ahead 3-2 at 17 minutes 54 seconds of the second period. It was only the Capitals' sixth shot -- and the last one faced by Hurricanes goalie John Grahame, who was yanked by Carolina Coach Peter Laviolette and replaced by Cam Ward at the start of the third period.

Ward's presence seemed to energize the Hurricanes, who promptly got goals from Staal and Andrew Ladd only 90 seconds apart. Two goals on two shifts, and suddenly, Carolina was in command.

"I couldn't believe what was happening," said Johnson, who dropped to 5-15-6.

Ovechkin made the most of Washington's only shot of first period (which tied a club record for futility). The powerful left wing fought off Carolina's Niclas Wallin and Chad LaRose in front of the net, then whipped a perfectly placed pass from Alexander Semin off the far post and past Grahame.

Carolina defenseman Mike Commodore scored short-handed at 4:01 of the second period to tie the score at 1. But on the same Capitals power play, Chris Clark redirected a wrist shot by Semin underneath Grahame.

Erik Cole deflected a shot past Johnson on the power play at 12:38 of the second period to even things at 2. But Ovechkin brought the Capitals right back, firing a no-look pass from Alexandre Giroux past Grahame's glove.

"We said we want to play good defensively in the third period," Ovechkin said. "But we don't do it."


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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