The Washington Capitals can extend their First Round series lead to 2-0 with a win against the Carolina Hurricanes at Capital One Arena on Saturday afternoon. The Capitals took Game 1 by a score of 4-2 on Thursday night. Game 2 can be seen on NBC beginning at 3 PM ET. Here are five keys for the Capitals for Game 2:
- Better Start
While the Capitals roared out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, they were getting outshot by a total of 5-0 before center Nicklas Backstrom opened the scoring on the Capitals’ second shot of the game 9:58 into the first period. Before that, the Hurricanes swarmed the Capitals zone and generated some quality scoring chances.
The odds are that the Capitals cannot win the series playing the way they did in Game 1 for the rest of the series and they will have to match Carolina’s urgency to begin Game 2. They barely had any sustained offensive zone time before Backstrom made it 1-0. The Capitals are going to have to jump on the Hurricanes to open the game on Saturday if they hope to extend their series lead.
2. Pressure Carolina’s Defense
The Capitals posted only 18 shots on Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek, 13 of them coming at even strength. Their nine shots on goal in the last two periods matched their total from the first period alone. Since they had success whenever they decided to shoot the puck, the Capitals need to do more of that in Game 2.
The Hurricanes’ average of 28.6 shots-against per game during the regular season was tied with the St. Louis Blues for the third-fewest in the NHL. With a team that does not allow a lot of shots on goal, the Capitals will need to force on Carolina’s defense into mistakes and have a good forecheck.
The Capitals are going to need to break down the Hurricanes defense during even-strength as they were limited at 5-on-5 in Game 1. The Capitals were outscored 2-1 at full strength not including center Lars Eller‘s empty-net goal that made it 4-2 in the third period.
3. Special Teams
The Capitals took advantage of both of their power-plays in the first period of Game 1, scoring on each of them but the Hurricanes did a better job of killing both of their remaining penalties in the second period. The Capitals are going to need to continue their strong puck movement to have success on the man advantage in Game 2 against a penalty-killing unit that finished eighth in the NHL with an efficiency of 81.6% in the regular season.
The Capitals limited the Hurricanes to only three shots on their three power-plays in Game 1 and need to continue to shut down their man advantage to have success.
4. Avoid Untimely Penalties
After the Hurricanes cut the Capitals’ lead to one with two goals in a span of 2:19 at the beginning of the third period, the Capitals took two penalties, ging Carolina chances to tie the game in a span of 5:15 in the final 10 minutes of the third period.
While the Capitals’ penalty-killing unit did a good job of preventing Carolina from doing any damage on those power-plays, they cannot afford to take penalties when momentum is starting to swing the other way and they still have the lead.
The Capitals will have to stay disciplined in tight games to have success the rest of the way.
5. Secondary Scoring
While the Capitals did get one goal from their bottom-six forward group, that was an empty-netter. The Capitals got two goals from their power-play and defenseman Brooks Orpik was the only non top-line forward to record a point on the team’s first three goals.
In addition, center Evgeny Kuznetsov, forward Jakub Vrana, forward T.J. Oshie, and forward Andre Burakovsky were all held without a shot on goal in Game 1, meanwhile the Hurricanes got two goals from forward Andrei Svechnikov, a third-liner. All but two (centers Jordan Staal and Greg McKegg) forwards recorded at least one shot on goal for the Hurricanes.
The Capitals got two goals from Backstrom and another from captain Alex Ovechkin in Game 1 but they cannot rely on their superstars to carry them this series, let alone the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If the team gets more balanced scoring, the Hurricanes will have a harder time matching the Capitals’ star power.
No changes to Caps lines in practice. Missing Eller (maintenance day), so Boyd is probably just a placeholder here.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 12, 2019
Hurricanes at practice today (same as start of game last night with Jake Bean subbing for Slavin)
de Haan extra
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) April 12, 2019
Defenseman Jaccob Slavin took a maintence day on Friday.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) April 12, 2019
By Harrison Brown