Last night's game was the first time this season that the Hurricanes truly dominated their opponent. They've had a lot of great games and big wins, but their 5-0 shellacking of the Caps was the first time that I can remember them walking all over another team. Everything seemed to be firing on all cylinders yesterday. They outshot the Caps 40-17, outchanced them 15-7 at even strength, scored on both the powerplay and penalty kill and they got one of the best efforts of the year from Eric Staal. Like last Monday's game against Montreal, Staal seemed to be playing on another level that we haven't seen much of this year and added another two goal, three point performance to his resume this year. With Ward, Pitkanen and Ruutu out of the lineup, Staal needs to be the team's best player and he was last night. Granted, Washington looked awful on so many different levels but the Canes took full advantage of that and bulldozed them.
Congratulations also go out to back-up Justin Peters who earned his first NHL shutout last night even though he didn't have do to much. I have been begging for the team to give him a lighter workload for awhile and they did just that as he only had to stop 17 shots and 10 scoring chances in a rocking chair, shutout performance. The team always seems to give up 30+ shots with Peters in net anyway, so this was a refreshing change.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Washington Capitals 2/20/12
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Carolina's chances are in red, Washington's are in white
This is what it looks like when you have a team that's playing some of their best hockey of the year against a team who is playing some of their worst. The Canes got off to an early advantage with a powerplay goal from Justin Faulk and then just built off of that. Washington constantly giving us the puck at the blue-line helped that cause too as a turnover directly led to Anthony Stewart's goal and a terrible transition led to a three-on-two and Andreas Nodl scoring his third goal of the year.
When a team has a 3-0 lead after the first period, most would expect score effects to kick in, which means the Canes would sit back on their lead while Washington did whatever they could to come back. That didn't happen. While the Canes did sit back a little, they did a great job of protecting the area in front of Peters and denying most of the Capitals best scoring opportunities. They also continued to take advantage of Washington's mistakes and turn them into chances and goals for themselves. See Eric Staal's shorthanded goal for a perfect example of that. His second goal also came as the result of a turnover in the Washington zone. Like I said, Carolina was playing some of their best hockey of the year while Washington looked like a team that was lost.
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Eric Staal +7
Worst EV Forward: Bowman, Sutter & Nodl -1
Best EV Defenseman: Jaroslav Spacek +6
Worst EV Defenseman: Tim Gleason EVEN
Last night may have been Eric Staal's best performance of the season. He blew away the Capitals at even strength, was active on the powerplay and scored a shorthanded goal. He's had more performances like this over the last few months and I'm very happy to see it. His success rubbed off on his linemates as both Tlusty and Samson were terrific in this game, too. Tlusty easily could have had a goal in the second period but Neuvirth shut him down. On the bright side, he kept his point streak going with two assists.
The NBC Sports commentators were praising Jamie McBain for his play last night and rightfully so. He made a few great defensive plays and was very active with jumping into the play to create offense. McBain and Spacek were mainly matched up with Washington's fourth line but they played their role well and that's all the Canes need for them to do.
Placing Dwyer on the second line with Jokinen and Skinner worked out a lot better than I thought it woudl be. Dwyer was on ice for five even strength scoring chances for all of last week and he matched that total last night. The best part was that he actually created a couple chances and was a contributing member of that line instead of just a passenger. Also, Skinner on the penalty kill was an interesting experiment (I'm guessing Muller did that because of how out of hand the game was). He nearly got the Canes their second shorty of the night and played pretty well against a lackadasical Caps powerplay.
I felt that the heavy-lifters (Gleason, Allen, Nodl, Sutter & Bowman) defense of the Ovechkin line was very good as these five kept #8 off the scoresheet completely and prevented him from being a factor for most of the game. Nodl, in particular, played very well in his own zone and it was nice to see him score a goal too. Sutter's line wasn't doing much in the offensive end aside from that, but they did their job when it came to defense. Same goes for Allen and Gleason.
Justin Faulk was an assist away from the Gordie Howe hat trick and that would have been the icing on the cake of a terrific game from him. He played great in every area but I did notice that he had only four shifts in the third period and played less ice time than any other defenseman. I wonder if his fight with Troy Brouwer had anything to do with that? Brouwer's decision to go after Faulk was a complete punk move because Brouwer is a semi-experienced fighter and I am pretty sure that Faulk has never fought in his career before. However, Faulk should have just skated away from him because he had nothing to gain by fighting Brouwer except the pleasure of beating up a big dummy.
Derek Joslin and Anthony Stewart got more ice time than usual last night which was probably due to the score but they were effective in their roles. Joslin had two fights with Hendricks and was very active along the boards while Stewart scored his seventh goal of the year. Tim Brent also added a powerplay assist and is continuing to work the point well.
Head-to-head at five-on-five
- Not a lot of bad to write about here. Everyone did well against the Ovechkin line and Staal's line dominated Johansson's. They also outchanced John Carlson & Karl Alzner, which was their main matchup.
- Gleason & Allen shut down just about everyone in the Capitals top six with the exception of Jason Chimera.
- Jaro Spacek won all of his matchups and so did everyone on Staal's line.