Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Series: Capitals lead, 2-1 | Next Game: Thursday, 7 p.m. ET, PNC Arena | TV: NBC Sports Washington, TBD
• Ovechkin scores KO, but Caps flattened: In one of their worst performances of the season, the Capitals were shut out Monday night. Read more
• Statistical stars: In case you're wondering, it's no one from Washington. Read more
• Highlights: More like lowlights if you're a Capitals fan. Read more
• Postgame reading: Catch up on all The Post's coverage of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Read more
Final score: Hurricanes 5-0
Ovechkin scores KO, but Caps flattened
By Samantha Pell
RALEIGH, N.C. — As Carolina Hurricanes forward Brock McGinn scored his team’s fifth and final goal of the night, the sellout crowd at PNC Arena, witnessing its first postseason game in a decade, erupted in unison. It was the same roar the Washington Capitals had heard all night, each signaling another Carolina surge, and the struggling Capitals couldn’t keep up.
In one of their worst performances of the season, the Capitals fell, 5-0, to the Hurricanes on Monday night in Game 3 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series. The Capitals were outshot 45-18, managing only one shot on net in the second period, and they had a six-game postseason winning streak that dated from Game 1 of last year’s Stanley Cup finals snapped. Washington still holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, with Game 4 scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday in Raleigh.
“We got to play better,” Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom said. “We got to come out and be a little more focused. That was just, yeah, not our style of play. I think, I mean, it is just everything. Everything can be better. We didn’t execute anything.”
Carolina looked like the more inspired team as it played in front of a raucous crowd waving its white rally towels after spending a sunny North Carolina afternoon tailgating in the parking lot for the first playoff game in the state since 2009.
Now, instead of having a chance to sweep the series Thursday, the Capitals will face a Hurricanes squad with newfound momentum and a chance to even the series in front of an energized home base.
Washington fell to 1-9 all-time in Game 3s after taking a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series. This year, at least, after winning their first Stanley Cup last season, the Capitals can draw on their experience of withstanding the wild momentum swings that the playoffs can bring. The Capitals remain a confident group.
“I think we learned from last year,” captain Alex Ovechkin said. “We’ve been in bad situations. . . . We stick together, game by game. Win or lose, we forget it and move forward.”
Ovechkin provided the Capitals with their most memorable moment of Game 3 when he landed several hard blows in a fight with Carolina rookie Andrei Svechnikov shortly after Warren Foegele scored the game’s first goal 9:43 into the first period. Just 79 seconds after the Hurricanes took their first lead of the series, Ovechkin pummeled Svechnikov.
“He’s never fought in his life, and I’m pretty sure Ovi knew that,” Carolina Coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “So that stuff bothers me.”
Ovechkin, who has been involved in only four fights in his career and had not been in one since December 2010, was challenged by Svechnikov to the fight after the 19-year-old Russian crosschecked Ovechkin several times in front of Washington’s net. After Ovechkin delivered the knockout blow, Svechnikov was slow to get off the ice and had to be helped to the dressing room. He was ruled out for the remainder of the game.
“It was big for him, showing his emotion. I mean, he plays hard,” goaltender Braden Holtby said of Ovechkin. “Against a kid that kind of, you know, takes a lot of cheap shots and that kind of thing, it was, you know, playoff hockey, but the biggest thing was that we didn’t respond very well after it. We kind of wasted that energy he created, and if it happens again, we won’t sit back.”
The chippiness continued through the end of the first period and into the second, but Carolina controlled the pace and capitalized on its chances. Foegele’s second goal came 6:09 into the second period, and defenseman Dougie Hamilton scored on the power play with a wrister at the top of the circle with 8:20 left to stretch Carolina’s lead to 3-0.
The Hurricanes had emphasized a quick start in Game 3 after the Capitals led 3-0 and 2-0 in the first two games. They got what they wanted, and Washington had no answer.
Even though Carolina played on without Svechnikov — and forward Micheal Ferland (upper-body injury) after he exited the ice midway through the first period — the Capitals were unable to win many battles in the offensive zone or on special teams. Washington was 0 for 4 on the power play, and Hamilton’s second power-play goal near the midpoint of the third period essentially sealed the result.
The second period best exemplified the Capitals’ inefficiencies. Their one shot on goal was a team record for the fewest in a period in a road playoff game.
The third period wasn’t much better, with the majority of the Capitals’ seven shots coming in the final minutes. By then, Washington was ready to move on and hope for a better result in Game 4 on Thursday.
1. Warren Foegele: Two goals, team-high six high-danger scoring chances
2. Dougie Hamilton: Two power-play goals
3. Teuvo Teravainen, Sebastian Aho and Nino Niederreiter: 11 shots and nine scoring chances at even strength as a trio. Four shot-attempts allowed.
There isn’t much to say about this one. Carolina took control early and never looked back. Carolina out shot Washington 45 to 13 with a 32-to-15 edge in scoring chances and dominated all three phases of the game. And the Hurricanes did it without the services of Micheal Ferland and Andrei Svechnikov.
Credit Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour for keeping Teravainen, Aho and Niederreiter together despite the losses on the bench. Those three registered at least one shot on net against 12 different skaters for Washington, including nine against with Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie on the ice.
Only Alex Ovechkin was close to breaking even for on-ice, even-strength shot differential tonight (6 to 7). Vrana and Oshie, on the other hand, were out shot 11 to 0 when sharing the ice tonight.
Burn the tape if you’re the Capitals. — Neil Greenberg
End period three: Hurricanes 5, Capitals 0
It’s over: The Hurricanes controlled the game from start to finish, with the Capitals placing just 13 shots on the Carolina net all game. The series is now 2-1 in the favor of the Capitals, who will need a much better effort Thursday if they’re to bring a series lead home to Washington for Game 5. Braden Holtby may have allowed five goals, but also recorded 40 saves in the loss.
Nope, now the Hurricanes have ended it: While the Capitals seemed to stop playing a long (long, long) time ago, the Hurricanes have not. And now the Canes have scored again, making it 5-0 after Brock McGinn skated in untouched and fired the puck home.
Hurricanes may have ended it: Dougie Hamilton scored his second power-play goal of the game to make it 4-0 Hurricanes with 10:13 left in the third period. Considering the Capitals can’t get a shot on goal, more or less a goal, it feels like Game 3 is in the books.
Another missed opportunity: After T.J. Oshie took a stick to the face, the Capitals again couldn’t convert on the power play. They’re now 0-for-2 at 5-on-4 in the third period down 3-0. What’s more? The Capitals have yet to record a shot on goal in the third period.
No joy on early Capitals power play: Washington had a golden opportunity to claw back into the game, earning a power play less than 4 minutes into the third period, but the Capitals could muster nothing on the man-advantage and the slog continues for the Caps.
End of second period: Hurricanes 3, Capitals 0 | If you’re a Capitals fan, that was a tough period to watch. The team didn’t register its first shot on net until there were 4 minutes and 45 seconds remaining in the frame, a soft backhand attempt by Ovechkin that ended a 23-minute drought.
If you want to point fingers, look no further than Washington’s second line of Vrana, Kuznetsov and Oshie. That trio has mustered just one even-strength shot attempt in seven minutes of ice time while allowing seven scoring chances to Carolina. Niederreiter, Aho and Teravainen have five of those chances at Kuznetsov’s expense which included two high-quality chances in the slot. — Neil Greenberg
For Caps’ ugly second is over: The Capitals seem to be missing pretty much any sign that would suggest there is a win in their near future. Washington was outshot (badly), outworked and outscored in the second period by a hungry Hurricanes team that is icing just 10 forwards. Meanwhile, the Capitals can barely get the puck into the offensive zone after getting outshot 33-10 to this point in the game and recording just one (1) shot in the second period. Losing Game 3 is far from losing the war, but there is nothing encouraging for the Capitals in this game so far.
Caps are struggling: With just under five minutes left in the second period, Alex Ovechkin flicked a backhand on net. It was a routine stop, but it’s notable because it is the only shot on goal this period for Washington which is in danger of being run out of the building if it can’t turn around the momentum of this game, which is fully in favor of the Hurricanes.
Hurricanes stretch the lead to 3-0: Washington has had no match for the intensity of Carolina tonight and Dougie Hamilton’s goal pushes the Canes’ lead to 3-0 and threatens to put the game out of reach for the Capitals, who have just nine shots on goal to this point.
Foegelle strikes again: A doorstep goal by Warren Foegele, his second of the night, give the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead after a bad defensive pickup through the neutral zone allowed Sebastian Aho to skate in untouched and feed Foegele for the layup goal at the side of the crease.
Two Canes gone: Carolina’s PR department has announced that neither Andrei Svechnikov nor Micheal Ferland will return in Game 3.
End of first period: Hurricanes 1, Capitals 0 | The Capitals still can’t tilt the ice in their favor in the first period, falling behind 17 to 9 on unblocked shot attempts and 8 to 6 on scoring chances. No wonder they trail 1-0 at the end of the first in Game 3.
Washington is getting some quality chances, especially from its top line. Ovechkin produced four of the Capitals’ scoring chances and would have had more if not for earning five for fighting Andrei Svechnikov midway through the period. Ironically, Ovechkin’s first-period success comes despite Carolina Coach Rod Brind’Amour matching up his top line (Niederreiter, Aho and Teravainen) as a means of slowing him down. It worked during the regular season — Aho’s line had a 13-to-4 scoring chance advantage, 10 to 2 in the high-danger areas, against Ovechkin, Backstrom and Wilson at even strength in the four regular season games — but hasn’t so far in Game 3. Washington’s top line has seven scoring chances in less than four minutes of ice time. — Neil Greenberg
Capitals weather the first period: Washington wasn’t able to generate many scoring chances and its one power play occurred while Alex Ovechkin was in the penalty box for his one-sided fight with Andrei Svechnikov, and the first period ended with the Canes up 1-0. At the end of the period, Greg McKegg (on the shortlist for best name in hockey) laid into Matt Niskanen from behind, a hit that very nearly sent Niskanen headfirst into the end boards. No penalty was called but T.J. Oshie and several other Capitals took exception, sparking a bit of a scrum before the teams retreated to their locker rooms for intermission.
From Russia, no love: Andrei Svechnikov had an impressive playoff debut with two goals in Game 1, but following the Hurricanes goal, Alex Ovechkin, of all players, dropped the gloves and completely knocked out the Hurricanes’ young Russian. The two traded some tame jabs before Ovechkin had enough and dropped Svechnikov with three hard rights. You don’t see that every day . . . or hardly ever. Off the top of my head, the last time Ovechkin dropped the gloves was against Brandon Dubinsky in like 2010.
A gaffe and a goal: A turnover by defenseman Christian Djoos ultimately turned into a slap shot by Justin Faulk and was touched by Warren Foegele, then popped over the shoulder of Braden Holtby to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead, their first lead of any kind this series.
No score after 5 minutes: Neither team has made a mark on the scoreboard early, despite a few decent chances for Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals. Washington’s top line has been by far its best in Game 3 to this point.
Canes switch the matchups early: After Evgeny Kuznetsov’s line matched up with Carolina’s top forward unit led by Sebastian Aho the first two games, it looks like the Hurricanes will try to match that top line against Nicklas Backstrom’s line early in Game 3. While Kuznetsov is better suited to match a speed threat like Aho, Backstrom is considered the Caps’ top defensive center.
Hurricanes are ready to rock: The Hurricanes have been mocked for the meager crowds for years, but with this Carolina’s first home playoff game in a decade, the parking lots were full of tailgaters more than an hour before puck drop. College sports tend to rule in the South, and we’ve seen hockey games in these markets take on a similar vibe with scripted chanting. The Capitals got off to strong starts in the first two games with multi-goal leads, and if they do that again tonight, that could take the Hurricanes’ crowd out of it early.
Immerse yourself in the Capitals’ postseason with The Post’s coverage of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.