Mike Green reclaimed his “Game Over” moniker and sent the rebound of a Dennis Wideman shot from the point trickling into the net as the Washington Capitals defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in overtime in front of a raucous Verizon Center crowd, the 107th consecutive sellout. The Capitals almost held on to win in regulation, but Jussi Jokinen scored for the Hurricanes with just over a minute remaining and their goalie, Brian Boucher, pulled in favor of the extra attacker.
Carolina opened the scoring on the night in the second period with a sharp angle Eric Staal tap-in, and it looked as though the Caps, who came out of the gate a bit flat and uninspired, might be in danger of dropping their first home opener in several years.
In true Capitals fashion, however, the Capitals roared back into the game on two breakaway goals. Just two minutes after the Eric Staal goal, enigmatic winger Alex Semin put up a vote for himself in the “cares” column when he took a beautiful pass from John Carlson and flicked a nifty backhanded shot past Boucher to tie up the game. Five minutes later, Jason Chimera scored on his own breakaway, tallying with help from new Capital Joel Ward, who recorded his 100th career point on the play.
Just 18 seconds into the third period, however, Eric Staal scored from in close again and the game was again tied. The Caps went up 3-2 in the third on a power play goal from Brooks Laich, who was operating in close and banged the puck into the net through a maze of bodies.
Even though the final result was a win, and there were a number of positive takeaways, namely the converted breakaways and success of the third line, there were also a number of blips that the Caps might do well to address quickly. The Capitals seemed a bit disorganized for most of the night, especially in their own end, often having trouble corralling pucks and organizing breakouts – Jeff Schultz in particular seemed to have a rough night in that department – but that might have been partially explained by what looked to be a bad sheet of ice. Also concerning were several untimely penalties: one by John Carlson that led to the second Staal goal and a particularly galling boarding penalty by Semin as time expired in regulation.
One down, eighty-one to go.