Two multi-goal deficits proved too much for the Carolina Hurricanes to overcome as they fell 4-2 to the Washington Capitals on Sunday, Nov. 28. The Canes overcame a 2-0 hole to start the third period but another pair of Washington goals in the final three minutes put the game out of reach.
Even though the Caps and Canes went a combined 1 for 8 on the power play, special teams proved decisive as a PPG by Dmitry Orlov put Washington up 3-2 with under three minutes to go.
The Caps’ man advantage resulted from a slashing call on center Sebastian Aho that occurred 30 seconds after center Seth Jarvis was sent to the box for holding. Washington did not score in the 1:30 of 5-on-3 hockey, but Jarvis came back onto the ice just in time to watch Orlov fire one past goaltender Frederik Andersen.
“It was a great game, great hockey game,” said head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “I thought we had a great third period. We just did everything we could and it's unfortunate, what are you going to do? It's tough… we blew our coverage there. We didn't do any of that in the whole period and then all of a sudden, take a little breath, and that's what they do to you.”
The Hurricanes only managed to make it competitive thanks to a gutsy push early in the third period. Center Jesperi Kotkaniemi put Carolina on the board with 13:38 to go, and right wing Nino Niederreiter netted the equalizer just 2:50 later. Although they did not get the end result they wanted, the Canes at least made the game competitive down the stretch.
“The third period was a pretty good period overall,” Aho said. “We scored two goals and came back into the game so it was nice that we could do that as a group.”
To their credit, the Capitals brought their A-game as well. When Carolina tried to make it a game of speed in the first period, Washington quickly adjusted the tone to suit its more physical style of play, forcing the Canes to play Washington’s way. Despite hanging tough throughout the afternoon, Carolina was simply outmatched by the Caps.
“That’s a great team over there,” Brind’Amour said. “They give you nothing and you have to earn every chance.”
A lame Hurricanes power play unit aided Washington’s efforts. With the Canes in the middle of an 0 for 15 power play drought, the Caps could afford to take some penalty minutes as the game went along.
The penalties themselves were plenty and the two Metropolitan division rivals established just how much they do not care for each other early and often. The Hurricanes served 12 of the 20 total PIM of the game, including some for retaliating against some antagonizing acts by Caps players. Most notably, defenseman Brendan Smith took Tom Wilson to the ground after Wilson poked around at a puck that Andersen had already secured.
Tom Wilson takes an extra whack at Andersen after a save and Brendan Smith gives him a one-way ticket down.Couple tags from the bottom by the Caps forward, both will head to the box for their actions. pic.twitter.com/dpSah1A3tV— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) November 28, 2021
For now, the win puts Washington atop the Metropolitan division with 33 points while Carolina trails just behind at 31. The Hurricanes’ next opportunity to catch up to the Caps in the standings lies in Dallas as Carolina will travel to take on the Stars. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET.