Capitals slip by Canes in overtime

Jokinen ties it late, but push falls short

calexander@newsobserver.comOctober 9, 2011 

— The Carolina Hurricanes picked up their first point of the season Saturday.

The Canes wanted two.

To come into the Verizon Center and face the Washington Capitals in the Caps' season opener was asking a lot. The Caps had not lost a home opener since 2000 and were the best team in the NHL's Eastern Conference last season.

The Hurricanes used a late Jussi Jokinen goal to force overtime, but the Caps managed to pull out a 4-3 win on Mike Green's power-play goal at 2:24 of the OT.

Green's shot nicked the shin pad of a Canes player and goaltender Brian Boucher, getting his first start for Carolina, couldn't ward it off. The Caps celebrated and the sellout crowd exploded, but the Hurricanes did not come away devastated.

Eric Staal had a pair of power-play goals for the Canes on a three-point night. Jokinen got the clutch late goal and the effort was there. It just wasn't quite enough a night after the Canes were beaten 5-1 by the Tampa Bay Lightning in their season opener.

"It was a good effort," Staal said. "We came hard. We came to play.

"I liked our game, up and down. If we bring this kind of effort we're going to win a lot of games. It still (stings) to lose, but you've got to know your game and you've got to know what's going to make you successful, and the way we played ... it can help us win a lot of games."

The Lightning scored the winning goal Friday on a 5-on-3 power play, and when Brooks Laich scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal with 3:45 left in the third, the Caps led 3-2. But Staal helped win a corner fight for the puck, got it to Jeff Skinner and Skinner passed to Jokinen for the tying goal with 1:19 left in regulation.

Alexander Semin, who scored the Caps' first goal on a breakaway, was called for boarding the Canes' Bryan Allen as time expired in the third. The Canes began overtime with a four-on-three power play. Jokinen had two shots and Skinner - who finished with three assists -- had a third but all were turned away by Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth.

"Staal gave me great passes but I couldn't get upstairs," Jokinen said.

Jokinen then was called for holding, setting up Green's winning shot.

"I liked how we played," Jokinen said. "It was two good hockey teams out there. Obviously it's a tough way to lose. We had those chances four-on-three."

The Canes again scored the game's first goal, with Staal blasting a shot past Neuvirth off a Jokinen pass on the power play. Semin and Jason Chimera got behind the Canes for scores in the second period, but the Caps were called for a delay-of-game penalty with 11 seconds left in the period.

With fresh ice, the Canes tied it 2-2 just 18 seconds into the third on Staal's second power-play goal. Laich then gave the Caps the 3-2 lead after defenseman Joni Pitkanen was called for boarding and Brandon Sutter for tripping Alex Ovechkin in front.

Boucher, signed in the offseason to back up Cam Ward, had 32 saves for the Canes but wanted at least one more.

"I thought we played an absolutely gritty, fantastic game," Canes coach Paul Maurice said. "We were the better team for the first half. Our power play was fantastic. On the four-on-three we had some chances, too.

"You're here to win every game. Last year we won games where Cam Ward had to be the difference and you weren't sure why you won the game. But we played a man's game tonight, everyone got off the bench and was involved and I'm really proud of that effort."

Capitals 4, Hurricanes 3 (OT)















First--none. Penalties--Ponikarovsky, Car (holding), 7:27; LaRose, Car (slashing), 9:39; Ovechkin, Was (cross-checking), 13:34.

Second--1, Carolina, E.Staal 1 (Jokinen, Skinner), 12:16 (pp). 2, Washington, Semin 1 (Carlson), 14:28. 3, Washington, Chimera 1 (J.Ward, Alzner), 19:39. Penalties--Carlson, Was (tripping), 10:38; Carlson, Was (delay of game), 19:49.

Third--4, Carolina, E.Staal 2 (Skinner, Pitkanen), :18 (pp). 5, Washington, Laich 1 (Ovechkin, Backstrom), 16:15 (pp). 6, Carolina, Jokinen 1 (Skinner, E.Staal), 18:41. Penalties--Pitkanen, Car (boarding), 15:08; Bra.Sutter, Car (tripping), 15:45; Semin, Was (boarding), 20:00.

Overtime--7, Washington, Green 1 (Wideman, Backstrom), 2:24 (pp). Penalties--Jokinen, Car (holding), 1:29.

Shots on goal--Carolina 10-8-9-4--31. Washington 7-17-11-1--36. Power-play opportunities--Carolina 2 of 4; Washington 2 of 5. Goalies--Carolina, Boucher 0-0-1 (36 shots-32 saves). Washington, Neuvirth 1-0-0 (31-28).

A--18,506. T--2:37.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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