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Carolina Hurricanes @ Washington Capitals 12-11-2009

Verizon Center Before The Game

Tonight, the Verizon Center hosts a battle of the NHL’s points leader (the Capitals are tied with the San Jose Sharks at 44) against the NHL’s most deprived (the Hurricanes come into tonight’s contest with just 19 points).

The Capitals are looking to avenge a 3-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night while the Hurricanes are looking to win their third game in their last four after losing five straight.

1st Period Overview:

The Hurricanes came into downtown D.C. with a lot to prove and they did just that by striking first off an easy two-on-one goal that was assisted by center Brandon Sutter and finished off by center Jiri Tlusty for his first goal of the season. Their second goal came with an unlikely slide from the puck. With over six minutes to go, Jose Theodore, filling in for the injured Semyon Varlomov, had his leg against the corner of the net and had the puck trapped following an Eric Staal shot but once he moved his leg, the puck slowly slid behind the veteran goaltender.

The opening period of the night can best be described by the Capitals inability to take advantage of oppurtunities on offense, with Alexander Ovechkin whiffing on two shots, the last being within 20 feet of the Hurricanes net with just a few minutes remaining in the period.

The Capitals offense has not been able to sustain a solid presence in Carolina territory while the defense has allowed time and space for the last-place Hurricanes to create two-on-ones and open oppurtunities for shooters. The lack of defensive awareness and inability shows when the shots on goal are reviewed. The Hurricanes have converted half of their shots into goals while the Capitals have failed to score once while almost quadrupling Carolina’s shot output.

The Caps must keep the puck away from Theodore if they want to have any chance tonight and take advantage of any scoring oppurtunity.

Faceoffs won: Car – 11 Was – 8
Blocked Shots: Car – 8 Was 4
Hits: Car 7 – Was 3
Shots on goal: Car – 4 Was – 14
Goals: Car – 2 Was – 0

2nd Period Overview:

This game, so far, has been a tale of two periods.

Despite starting out the beginning of the period defending themselves on their own half of the ice for the most part, the Capitals applied a large amount of offensive pressure against Carolina and it increased towards the middle of the period.

The pressure paid off when Alexander Semin fired a missle past Cam Ward’s shoulder to put the Capitals on the board. Following the goal, the Capitals showed a renewed energy and continued to surround and harsass Ward around the net, reminding the fifth-year goaltender why the Caps remain atop the league in scoring.

Semin ended the period in exciting fashion by finishing off a shot deflected by Ward for his second goal of the period. The goal came with 0.6 seconds to go.

The Capitals still had a tendency to let long pass get behind the defense but as long as they don’t get past Theodore and the offense continues to ride the wave of momentum, winning this game should not be a problem.

Faceoffs won: Car – 9 Was – 12
Blocked Shots: Car – 10 Was – 4
Hits: Car – 6 Was – 2
Shots on goal: Car – 7 Was – 12
Goals: Car – 0 Was – 2

3rd Period (Most of it):

Just less than three minutes into the third, Tomas “Flash” Fleischmann strikes with his first goal of the night (11th on the season), giving the Capitals their first lead at 3-2.

Washington is looking more fluid on both ends of the ice this period. The offense is passing the puck around better and looks more organized by the minute.

The Hurricanes tied the game up with an interception from Tim Gleason, who scored on an unassisted shot that screamed past an out-of-position Theodore, who had skated up from the net several feet forward, giving Gleason plenty of open room.

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