Brian Pinho scored twice and Ilya Samsonov stopped 13 of 15 shots to help the Caps to their third win in as many exhibition outings, 3-2 over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night at Capital One Arena.
Neither side dressed a very representative lineup, and neither side managed to hit double-digit shot totals in any of the game's three periods. At night's end, the Caps owned a 20-15 advantage in that department.
Samsonov saw only seven shots through the first 40 minutes, stopping all seven.
Video: Todd Reirden Postgame | September 21
"I liked his game," says Caps coach Todd Reirden. "It's a difficult game for a goaltender to play. He makes a huge save in the second when they get a [Julien Gauthier] breakaway, and some of the chances they did get were on some mistakes we made, and he had to bail us out. But just not a lot of constant shot presence around our end.
"Our guys did a good job of getting in shot lanes and did a good job keeping it to the outside. So it was a difficult game for him. We give up the two goals, and then at the end they're still pushing and he was solid, like he didn't look uncomfortable. It was a good showing for him."
Washington turned in a strong first 20, but the Caps first had to navigate their way through some choppy penalty waters. For the second time in as many games, the Caps faced a two-man disadvantage, this one 45 seconds in duration, and in the first five minutes of the initial period. Not only did the Caps keep the scoresheet clean, they held the Canes without a shot on net for the entire 3:15 they were shorthanded.
Carolina didn't get its first shot on net until after the midpoint of the first. By that time, the Caps owned a 1-0 lead.
Video: CAR@WSH: Leason snaps home goal from the circle
Liam O'Brien forced Canes defenseman Fredrik Claesson to cough up the puck, and the blueliner put it right to Brett Leason, who quickly snapped a wrist shot past Anton Forsberg's glove hand from the inside of the left circle at 6:44.
Less than 10 minutes later, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby forced Claesson to give up the puck again, this time in open ice high in the Carolina zone. This time, the Canes defender slid it right to Brian Pinho, who slid a backhander between Forsberg's pads to make it 2-0 at 16:00.
Video: CAR@WSH: Pinho buries five-hole goal with backhand
The middle frame was scoreless, and the Canes managed only three shots in that period despite getting another power play opportunity. Washington's penalty killing outfit held the Canes' extra man unit without a shot in 5:15 worth of power play time.
The Caps had only one power-play shot on net, but Pinho made it count. After taking a feed from Garrett Pilon along the right half wall, Pinho fired from the slot. Canes defenseman Jake Bean muzzled the shot somewhat, but it arced like a little pop-up, and Carolina goalie James Reimer flailed at it with his blocker but missed. The puck landed in the net at 8:31, for a 3-0 Caps lead.
Video: CAR@WSH: Pinho nets PPG for second tally
Just as the Caps cashed in on a couple of first-period giveaways for their first two goals of the game, so did the Canes in the third. A Lucas Johansen turnover became an unassisted Brock McGinn goal at 11:30, and Evgeny Kuznetsov's giveaway ended up in the back of the Washington net at 14:54, when Janne Kuokkanen made it 3-2.
Even that late rally didn't do much to improve Carolina's outlook on the contest, its first loss of the preseason.
"Not much," answers Canes coach Rod Brind'Amour, when asked what his team did better in the final frame. "I think we just got a couple of bounces. We were a little more tenacious -maybe - on the puck in the third, but not really. That was a pretty disgusting game, to be honest with you.
"I don't even care about the score, it's just that we didn't play the way we've been practicing all week, and I didn't know what we were watching. So that's the hard part. I think we had three NHL players from our team playing, but it still should be better. There were enough veteran guys that have been in the league. That wasn't very good."