Hurricanes 6, Capitals 0
-- The Washington Capitals' road white jerseys were a familiar sight when the players skated onto the ice at RBC Center for their first preseason game.
Not much else was.
The Capitals' lineup was almost completely composed of prospects. The game looked different, too, thanks to a host of rule changes designed to create more offense.
And on Friday night, there was plenty of it for Carolina, which rolled to a 6-0 victory over an undermanned Capitals team in front of an announced crowd of 12,106. It was the Hurricanes' first home game in 532 days because of the labor dispute that shut down the NHL last season. The words "Thank You Fans!" spanned the ice at both ends.
Washington's biggest struggle was with an unwritten rule tweak: the officials' pledge to crack down on clutching and grabbing. The Capitals were called for 15 infractions, 12 of which were either for hooking, holding or interference. Four of Carolina's goals came on the power play.
"Everyone needs some time to get used to the rule changes," veteran defenseman Brendan Witt said. "We arrived late today so we didn't get briefed. The officials came in after the second period and discussed it with us; it was supposed to be before. You can't clutch and grab anymore."
Another rule change: the shootout, which will be used to break tied games. All preseason games will have an exhibition shootout, regardless of the score. The Capitals lost that one too, 2-1.
Defenseman Jamie Heward scored for Washington, while prospects Mike Green and Eric Fehr missed.
"It's going to be fun," Capitals right wing Chris Clark said. "It's definitely fan friendly. It will be exciting. But it will be tough when you lose in a shootout."
The lopsided defeat didn't mean much to Washington's coaching staff, which was more focused on evaluating the young players and deciding which ones deserve a spot on the opening night roster. That's the Capitals' real competition, and it began in earnest when the puck was dropped. (Washington's split squad was without several key players, including Alexander Ovechkin, Steve Eminger, Dainius Zubrus, Ivan Majesky, Petr Sykora and Alexander Semin.)
After the game, Coach Glen Hanlon praised Green, fellow defensive prospect Jeff Schultz and Witt.
It was no surprise that Washington's best offensive line was the all-veteran trio centered by Jeff Halpern, with Ben Clymer and Clark skating on the wings.
Starting goaltender Maxime Ouellet, who will likely be Olaf Kolzig's backup during the regular season, gave up four goals on 23 shots. His replacement, Frederic Cassivi, surrendered two goals on 14 shots.
Carolina's first score came on a power play off the stick of Eric Staal; the Hurricanes' second goal was scored short-handed by Justin Williams, who ripped a wrist shot between Ouellet and the near post. Michael Zigomanis and Matt Cullen each scored power-play goals for Carolina in the second period to put the game out of reach, 4-0. In the third period, Colin Forbes, a former Capital, tallied the Hurricanes' fifth goal, and Cory Stillman scored with the man advantage.
"We knew that it would be a penalty fest," Hanlon said. "It was a good game to learn what you can get away with and what you can't."
Capitals Notes: The Capitals' bus pulled into the arena parking lot only 40 minutes before face-off because their chartered airplane was about an hour late picking up the team at BWI Airport. The Capitals landed in Raleigh at 5:50 p.m., got a police escort and arrived at the arena at 6:20 for a 7 p.m. game. . . . Russian defenseman Viktor Dovgan, the Capitals' seventh-round draft pick in June, has been ruled a legal selection by the NHL. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Dovgan had been ruled ineligible moments after being chosen because league officials said he was too young. The Capitals claimed he was born Feb. 27, 1987, which turned out to be correct. . . . Injured Capitals Zubrus (knee surgery), Majesky (knee) and Jakub Cutta (elbow) skated separately at Piney Orchard Ice Arena in Odenton on Friday morning.