Contrary to recent games where the Caps have jumped out to early leads, Friday night in Raleigh saw a sluggish start for the defending champs. Fortunately Washington would respond in a big way, scoring four unanswered goals, with regulation and overtime ending in a 5-5 tie. The Caps would win it in the shootout. The Caps are back in action Saturday night when they host the high-flying Sabres at Capital One Arena. Puck drop is 7:00PM.
Carolina played the night before in Montreal, but showed no signs of being tired in the early going, jumping out to a 4-1 lead midway through the game. Fortunately the champs would respond in the last half of the middle frame for a 4-4 score after two periods. After each side scored in the final frame, regulation ended in a tie. Jakub Vrana would win it in the shootout.
Tom Wilson returned to the lineup after missing three games due to a concussion he sustained against Vegas on December 4. Chirstian Djoos had surgery on Thursday for a thigh injury he sustained against the Red Wings on December 11. He will be out indefinitely.
Holtby vs. Darling
The ‘Canes would get things started with a tally just 47 seconds into the contest, but Alex Ovechkin would answer at 3:56 for a 1-1 tie. The Hurricanes would retake the lead late in th opening frame with a SHG for a 2-1 lead at the first intermission. Sebastian Aho would make it 3-1 with a PPG early in the middle frame and add another for a 4-1 lead at the midway point. Tom Wilson would cut the Canes lead to two with a tally late in the middle frame, Alex Ovechkin would score his second goal of the game and Travis Boyd would score for a 4-4 game at the second intermission. Alex Ovechkin would pot his third of the game for back-to-back hat tricks to make it 5-4, but former Cap Justin Williams would tie the game moments later for a 5-5 game at the end of regulation. Nicklas Backstrom and Jakub Vrana would score in the shootout.
SHOT ATTEMPTS (POSSESSION)
The Caps out-attempted The Canes 18-11 with the teams tied 10-10 in shots on goal (SOG) after 20 minutes. The Canes out-attempted the Caps 18-17 but the Caps led 11-6 in SOG in the second period. The Caps out-attempted the Canes 16-12 but the Canes led 10-7 in SOG in the final frame.
SHOT ATTEMPTS (DIFFERENTIAL)
SHOT ATTEMPTS (LOCATION)
Braden Holtby had a below average outing during regulation, but made up for it in the shootout. He would stop 22 of 27 shots for an .815 save percentage before the shootout. Scott Darling stopped 24 of 29 shots faced for an .828 save percentage.
Entering the game, the Capitals were fourth in the league in power plays with a 26.9% success rate, and were 22nd in the league on the penalty kill with a 77.8% kill rate for a combined 104.7 special teams index. The Hurricanes entered the game with the leagues 23rd ranked power play at 15.8% success rate, and were 13th in the league in the penalty will with an 81.3% kill rate for a combined 97.1 special teams index.
In Friday night’s tilt, the Capitals penalty kill struggled, allowing goals on three of the Canes six power plays. The Capitals were 1 for 2 on the man advantage.
The Capitals entered Friday night’s contest ranked 24th in the league in overall faceoff winning percentage at 48.1%. Carolina had the league’s ninth best winning percentage at 51.5%. The Canes dominated the faceoff circle 58-42%. Nicklas Backstrom was 9 of 19, Lars Eller was 8 for 17, Nic Dowd was 6 for 9, Tom Wilson was 1 for 1, Travis Boyd was 0 for 3, T.J. Oshie was 0 for 3 and Evgeny Kuznetsov was 1 for 8.
Alex Ovechkin recorded his second hat trick in as many games, the 22nd of his NHL career. He led the team in SOG with 5. Travis Boyd had low ice time, but scored a goal. He has goals in three consecutive games.