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Hurricanes at Capitals In-Game Blog: 03-11-2011

Pregame Preview:

The Caps come into tonight’s contest riding high on a six-game winning streak, with the latest victory coming on home ice Wednesday night against the worst team in the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers. Three point milestones were set that night in Washington’s 5-0 route with Jason Arnott gaining his 900th, Dennis Wideman reaching his 200th and Alex Ovechkin eclipsing 600 at just 25 years of age.

Oilers goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin was terrorized by the Caps offense in the final two periods, with Ovechkin and Eric Fehr, who had missed 22 games with a shoulder injury, each pitching in two goals. Alexander Semin put the icing on the cake with the team’s final goal of the night. While his goal was not needed, it helped add to an important stat: Washington is 17-0-0 when Semin scores a goal this season. The team is also 5-0 since the acquisitions of Arnott and Wideman.

Semin might be the player that benefits the most from Arnott’s arrival, having scored three goals and five points in the last four games. The 36-year-old’s presence has clearly helped motivate Semin, who only seemed to play motivated in spurts through most of the season. Now it appears there is a leader who is willing to motivate him and get him back on track.

The defense also came to play that night, with rookie goaltender Braden Holtby leading the way with 22 saves and his first career shutout. That marked 5 straight periods with no goals allowed for the young and eccentric Holtby.

The Capitals have recently made the jump to second place in the Eastern Conference after reclaiming the lead in the Southeast Division on Monday. They are only four points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the conference lead, while the Carolina Hurricanes battle for an eighth or seventh seed in the playoff race. Carolina currently sits at ninth in the conference with 72 points but could easily make their way into the postseason considering the Buffalo Sabres (7th) and the New York Rangers (8th) both have 74 points.

Tonight at Verizon Center, the Caps faceoff against the Canes, a team they have beaten in their four previous meetings this season, with the last three coming down to 3-2 decisions. Four of their last five matchups have come down to that same score. Given that bit of information and the Hurricanes desperate need to get their way into the top eight teams in the conference, don’t be surprised to see yet another one-goal game tonight. Maybe even a 3-2 tally just for fun.

1st Period Overview:

- Both teams are playing very physical. It’s obvious how much the Canes want the points.

- Holtby is just disregarding everything coming his way. He already has 10 saves with not even 9 minutes having gone by.

- Eric Fehr just took a holding call, giving the Canes their first PP.

- Both teams have been aggressive on offense but the Canes lead the Caps halfway through the period with 10 shots to just two.

- Caps just got a loud ovation for their solid penalty kill.

- Canes go on another power play 12:54 in with Jason Chimera heading to the penalty box for goaltender interference.

- The Caps go on another power play with Jeff Skinner going into the box for hooking.

- The period ends with the Caps on a power play with Eric Staal heading to the sin bin for tripping with 43 seconds left in the first.

Faceoffs Won: CAR – 8 WAS – 9
Hits: CAR – 3 WAS – 11
Shots on Goal: CAR – 13 WAS – 9
Goals: CAR – 0 WAS – 0

2nd Period Overview:

- Alex Semin starts the period off with a slashing penalty, putting the Caps in yet another PK situation.

- The Caps have been passing the puck inside the Canes’ zone a lot better so far in this period trying to create scoring chances.

- The Caps announced this game as the 96th consecutive sellout.

- The Caps have been taking all the chances the Canes took in the first in this period but it’s still not translating into goals.

- Jason Arnott takes a slapshot with about a minute and a half left but is denied by a nice Cam Ward kick.

- The Canes get on the board with 35 seconds left. The goal was scored by Tuomo Ruutu. It’s his 16th on the year.

Faceoffs Won: CAR – 13 WAS – 11
Hits: CAR – 6 WAS – 6
Shots on Goal: CAR – 12 WAS – 10
Goals: CAR – 1 WAS – 0

3rd Period Overview:

- Ovechkin puts the Caps on the board 47 seconds into the period, tying the game at 1 apiece. It’s his 28th goal on the season. Marcus Johansson and Mike Knuble were credited with the assists.

- Caps fans were livid with the non-call when John Erskine was tripped near his own net.

- The refs aren’t trying to make any friends. Shortly after the non-call, they send Arnott to the box for hooking.

- Arnott intercepted the puck the second he returned to the ice from his penalty, went straight for the net, and took a shot that was rebounded by Matt Hendricks, who put it in the net to give the Caps a 2-1 lead.

- Staal and Ovechkin begin to scuffle but the refs quickly break up the two stars before a a real fight breaks out.

- Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was just put on the big screen. 75% boos raining down on him here. A loud 75.

- With 5:15 left, Matt Bradley is sent to the penalty box for high sticking.

Faceoffs Won: CAR – 10 WAS – 10
Hits: CAR – 9 WAS – 2
Shots on Goal: CAR – 16 WAS – 7
Goals: CAR – 0 WAS – 2

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