Storming Back To Catch The Hurricanes – Retro Recap: Washington Capitals vs Carolina Hurricanes – April 1, 2008

Photo: UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch

The Carolina Hurricanes came to the Verizon Center (now Capital One Arena) on April 1, 2008, which was a rematch of two teams only a week prior. At the time, the Canes were in first place in the Southeast Division with a record of 42-31-6. The Caps had a record of 40-31-8 and won their previous four games and eight of their previous nine games. 

The Capitals were returning home after completing a very long six-game road trip, mainly through the Southeast, where they won five out of six games. It was also a “must win” game for the Caps, who were bidding to catch Carolina atop the division, an endeavor that seemed impossible back on November 22 when the Caps had the worst record in the NHL.

“It gives us an opportunity,” said Capitals’ head coach Bruce Boudreau. “Our big thing was coming home and having an opportunity in the last three games. We’re still back and we’re still climbing. It’s tough, but we firmly believe that if we go out and take care of business that good things are going to happen. And that’s all we can do, is take care of our business. Not that being home is going make [for an automatic] win, but it will be a good boost.”

On the injury front for the Caps, the following players were out: defenseman Brian Pothier (concussion), right winger Chris Clark (groin), center Michal Nylander (rotator cuff surgery), and center David Steckel (broken finger). Pothier, Clark, and Nylander missed the remainder of the season.

For the Hurricanes, the following players were out: center Matt Cullen (post-concussion symptoms), center Rod Brind’amour (torn ACL), defenseman Bret Hedican (strained torso), defenseman David Tanabe (concussion), Patrick Eaves (shoulder surgery). Justin Williams and Ray Whitney were also returning to the Hurricanes’ lineup after missing time with injury.

The goaltending matchup was Cristobal Huet for the Capitals and Cam Ward for the Hurricanes.

First Period

The Caps came out flying, outhitting and outshooting the Canes. But there was no scoring until Matt Cooke scored for the Caps with five minutes left in the period, flicking a long rebound from the slot towards the net.

Photo: UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch

A little two over minutes later, Ray Whitney of Carolina was penalized for hooking, which put the Caps on the power play. Near the end of that power play, the Caps scored their second goal when Brooks Laich received a pass from Tomas Fleischmann, sent a backhand shot towards the net which got past Ward on his glove side and resulted in his 21st goal of the year. Viktor Kozlov earned the secondary assist.

Photo: UPI Photo/Kevin Dietsch

The Caps went into the first intermission leading 2-0 and outshooting Carolina 14-6. The one negative from the first period was the fact that defenseman Shaone Morrisonn left the game with an upper body injury.

Second Period

Scott Walker of the Hurricanes crashed the net and notched a goal at 2:38 into the second period to shave the Caps’ lead to 2-1. Overall, the second period was notable for penalties, where a parade of players from both teams kept marching to the penalty box.

First, Milan Jurcina took an interference penalty and then a minute later, John Erskine was penalized for high sticking, putting Carolina on a 5-on-3 power play. But less than 20 seconds later, Scott Walker was penalized for goaltender interference, and the Caps were on a more normal penalty kill for less than a minute.

Walker’s penalty had nearly expired when Trevor Letowski earned a double minor penalty for high-sticking to put the Caps on an extended power play. 30 seconds later, Alex Ovechkin and Niclas Wallin earned matching roughing penalties, setting up a 4-on-3 situation.

A minute and a half later, at 14:28, with the first part of Letowski’s double-minor about to expire, Alexander Semin scored on the power play, getting assists from Green and Fedorov, restoring the Caps’ two goal cushion. The goal was Semin’s 25th goal of the season. The score remained 3-1 going into second intermission.

Photo: NHL

Third Period

The third period was another period notable for penalties, with Matt Cooke of the Caps penalized for holding at 3:45 and Ryan Bayda called for goaltender interference at 12:26. The penalty parade began in earnest with less than five minutes to go in the game when within 40 seconds, both teams earned two minor penalties apiece.

Ovechkin added a late third period goal, his 63rd of the year, at 16:24, making the score 4-1, which was the final score. This goal tied him with Luc Robataille for most goals by a left winger during a single season.


The Caps’ win against Carolina tied them in points, except the Canes held the standings tie breaker if they finished tied. Had the Canes won, they would have clinched their fourth division title in nine seasons.

The Caps’ remaining two games would be home games against the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers. The Lightning had the worst record in the NHL while the Panthers were mediocre. [Note: Caps ultimately won both games, won the Southeast Division title, and made the playoffs.]

Post Game Quotes

“It was an extremely intense game. You could tell what was at stake,” said Bruce Boudreau.

Alex Ovechkin said, “All the guys played well today. We’re playing for something right now.”

Washington goaltender Cristobal Huet, who faced 22 Carolina shots, said, “The season was on the line today. They could have pretty much ended our season tonight. But they didn’t. We’re still alive.”

Defenseman Mike Green said, “It seems like it’s all coming together now. And there’s no more perfect time than now.”

Further Reading
Game Recap from Reuters
NHL: Time Capsule — Capitals vs Carolina, April 1, 2008
Box Score from Hockey Reference
10th Anniversary: A Look Back at the Washington Capitals’ 2007-08 Season
Look Back at Capitals Season Ending, Playoff Clinching Winning Streak of 2007-08

By Diane Doyle

About Diane Doyle

Been a Caps fan since November 1975 when attending a game with my then boyfriend and now husband.
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1 Response to Storming Back To Catch The Hurricanes – Retro Recap: Washington Capitals vs Carolina Hurricanes – April 1, 2008

  1. Jon Sorensen says:

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