Photo: Getty Images
With the Caps having just finished back-to-back games against the Carolina Hurricanes and with the second of that set of games featuring a very late comeback win for the Caps, it brings back memories of another game between the Caps and Hurricanes that took place on November 6, 2008. In this piece, NoVa Caps’ Diane Doyle takes a look back at Caps-Canes game from just under 10 years ago.
The Carolina Hurricanes came into the Verizon Center (now Capital One Arena) on November 6, 2008. At the time, the Canes were in first place in the Southeast Division with a record of 7-3-2 and had won two games in a row in a home-and-home series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Caps, meanwhile, had a 5-4-2 record and had lost their previous two games, most recently to the Ottawa Senators in overtime. In those two losses, the Caps had scored a total of two goals. In fact, the Capitals had scored one goal or fewer in four of their previous six games, indicating the offense was in a slump. Alex Ovechkin had not scored a goal since October 11 and was in a seven-game scoring drought. Ovechkin was not the only player in an offensive slump at the time. Forward Viktor Kozlov only had one goal on the year and had missed some time with a groin injury, while Nicklas Backstrom had yet to score a goal but had four assists.
As a result, then-Head Coach Bruce Boudreau figured he needed to make moves to spark the offense. He placed Sergei Fedorov, a former Detroit Red Wings great who had been the team’s second-line center since coming to Washington, as the first-line center. Fedorov was flanked by Ovechkin at left wing and Alexander Semin at right wing, creating an all-Russian first-line. This particular all Russian line had found success together at the World Championships during May 2008.
The game did not start well for the Caps. Nearly three minutes after the game started, Scott Walker of Carolina opened the scoring, with assists from Josef Melichar and Anton Babchuk. The period also featured two power play opportunities for the Capitals, neither on which they were able to convert and a single power play for the Hurricanes, upon which Carolina also failed to convert. With 3:45 left, the Capitals’ Donald Brashear got into a fight with Wade Brookbank. The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead into the dressing room at the end of 20 minutes of play.
The second period started off much better for the Caps. Just over three minutes into the period, Fedorov scored the game-tying goal, on assists from defenseman Jeff Schultz and Ovechkin.
The score remained tied until Tuomo Ruutu put the Canes ahead at the 12:13 mark of the period with an assist from defenseman Joe Corvo.
The score was now 2-1 and remained that way at the end of two periods.
The final frame started with the Caps taking back-to-back penalties. First, Fedorov sent to the sin bin at the 1:26 mark after hooking Hurricanes defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. About a minute later, Capitals goalie Brent Johnson shot the puck over the glass, earning the Caps a delay of game penalty and putting them on a 5-on-3 penalty kill. Fortunately, the Capitals were able to kill the Fedorov penalty. Just 14 seconds after Fedorov’s penalty had expired, Rod Brind’Amour of Carolina took a penalty, putting both teams 4-on-4 and subsequently, the Capitals on a power play. As it turns out, the Caps killed the 5-on-3 situation but could not score on their own abbreviated power play.
With less than three minutes to go in the game, at the 17:17 mark, Capitals right wing Alexander Semin scored the game-tying goal from close range, skating from behind the net towards the front and then shooting the puck into the Carolina net. It was his ninth goal of the year and came on assists from defenseman Tom Poti and Ovechkin.
At the time, Semin was one of the few offensive players who was performing consistently for the Caps. It looked like the game would proceed to overtime, but with just 11 seconds left in the game, Ovechkin got the puck in the defensive zone, skated down the ice, and then passed to Semin. Semin then rushed toward the net and beat Carolina goaltender Cam Ward with a wrist shot, once again on an assist from Ovechkin, putting the Caps ahead.
The Caps ended up winning the game 3-2 in a game in which they were behind for most of the way. To add insult to injury for the Hurricanes, Semin’s follow through hit Rod Brindamour of the Canes, resulting in blood.
By winning, the Caps snapped their two-game losing streak. They were now 6-4-1, with 13 points and had moved to just one point behind the Hurricanes, who were now 7-4-1 with 14 points. It was a season turning point for the Caps, who ran off five straight wins, including another win against Carolina just six days later, as they passed the Hurricanes in the Southeast Division Standings. If they had lost that game, they would have only been at the .500 mark.
It was a rough game for injuries, as Capitals defenseman Shaone Morrisonn left the game in the first period with a groin muscle strain and Fedorov left the game with a lower-body injury during the third period. With Fedorov leaving the game, Backstrom moved up to the top-line, where he has been fixture for the Caps ever since.
Period 2 — 03:05 Sergei Fedorov (4) — Assists by Alex Ovechkin, Jeff Schultz
Period 3 — 17:17 Alexander Semin (9) — Assists by Alex Ovechkin, Tom Poti
Period 3 – 19:49 Alexander Semin (10) – Assists by Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green
Capitals Goaltending Statistics
Brent Johnson 32 saves in 34 chances
By Diane Doyle