Caps return home, seek series lead vs. Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals return to D.C. for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference first-round series tied at 2-2. The Hurricanes scored wins in Games 3 and 4 at home, and the Capitals will try to get back on track when the series resumes Saturday night.
The Hurricanes have the momentum and did a solid job of taking Washington out of its game several times. Carolina’s physical style of play and speed really hurt the Capitals at both ends of the ice on many occasions in both games.
The Hurricanes often made clearing the puck out of their own end a battle for Washington, and Carolina has the speed to match the Capitals. Washington has not been able to get into the Hurricanes’ defensive zone and set up enough to cause trouble — and sometimes the Capitals can’t get out of their own end.
That’s been a big problem and showed that Carolina really has been playing tough hockey and clawed its way back into the series.
“Everyone’s playing the same right now in the playoffs,” Carolina defenseman Dougie Hamilton said to NHL.com. “We’re worked really hard the last two games. We worked hard in the first two games as well. We just didn’t get the same results. We’re excited. We’ve got to keep going Saturday.”
The Hurricanes are coming off of a 2-1 victory in Game 4 Thursday. Warren Foegele scored 17 seconds into the game, and Teuvo Teravainen snapped a 1-1 tie with his mini-breakaway goal in the final 30 seconds of the second period.
Goalie Petr Mrazek made 30 saves in the game and robbed the Capitals on some good scoring chances in the final few minutes to help tie the series.
The question now is if Washington can find its right form in Game 5. Playing at home should help the Capitals, but they need to get around Carolina’s suffocating defense all around the ice.
Washington did a good job of flipping the puck in the air to get it through the defensive zone in Game 4. The Caps used that ploy on several occasions, and it helped, but the only goal they scored was an Alex Ovechkin marker — and that came on the power play.
The Capitals scored just that one goal in the two games in Carolina.
What will hurt the Capitals is that they will be without T.J. Oshie, one of their top players. He was injured in the third period when Foegele pushed him into the boards with just over five minutes remaining.
The Capitals did not reveal the injury, but Oshie clearly was favoring his right shoulder and went into the tunnel. Washington was furious about the play. Ovechkin told The Washington Post it was “dirty,” and the team felt Foegele should have been given more than a two-minute penalty for boarding.
Plus, coach Todd Reirden said Oshie is going to be out for a while, something the Capitals don’t need now.
“It was a defenseless player that was quite a distance from the boards,” Reirden told the media. “It’s an extremely dangerous play, and 1/8Oshie 3/8 will not be with our team for a while. He won’t be playing any time soon.”
The Capitals made an interesting move Friday and brought up Devante Smith-Pelly from Hershey of the American Hockey League. Smith-Pelly was a big factor in last year’s Stanley Cup run but struggled this year (eight points in 54 games) and had been sent down during the season. Could he give Washington a boost again?
As for Carolina, the status of Andrei Svechnikov and Micheal Ferland remained unknown as of Friday morning. Svechnikov missed most of Game 3 after his fight with Ovechkin and was placed in concussion protocol and also was held out of Game 4.
Ferland left Game 3 in the first period due to a reaggravated upper-body injury. He also did not play in Game 4.
--Field Level Media