For the fifth time in six preseason games, the Capitals were limited to one or no goals on Friday night in Raleigh, and for the fifth time in six games, they ended up in the loss column as a result. The Hurricanes skated off with a 3-1 victory over the Caps, who have managed to score only eight goals in their six exhibition outings to date.
Carolina scored one goal in each period in taking a second straight exhibition decision from Washington. The Hurricanes improved to 5-2 on the preseason, and Friday night's game was the exhibition finale for Carolina, which doesn't play again for over a week. The Canes host Minnesota on Oct. 7 in their season opening game.
The Caps' lone goal came in the first minute of the second period on Matt Niskanen's well-placed shot from the slot. Devante Smith-Pelly made a good play to win the puck along the right wing half wall, then he made an even better pass - a firm backhanded feed to space - that enabled Niskanen to collect it, pick a corner and put it right there.
Video: WSH Recap: Niskanen scores in 3-1 loss to Hurricanes
Justin Faulk staked the Canes to a 1-0 first-period lead with a floater through traffic from the right point midway through the first, and Niskanen's goal tied the game at 1-1 just half a minute into the second period. But it didn't stay that way for long.
Noah Hanifin scored on a Carolina power play just 126 seconds later, restoring the Carolina lead at 2-1. Caps goaltender Philipp Grubauer - who was very good in a losing effort - made the initial stop, but Hanifin quickly pounced on the rebound and tucked it home at 2:36.
Washington wasn't able to generate much in the way of possession or sustained offensive zone time, and when Trevor van Riemsdyk's shot found a way past Grubauer from the right half wall at 5:11 of the third, the Caps fell into a two-goal hole from which they would not emerge.
The Caps dressed a lineup loaded with players trying to nail down opening night roster berths, and Caps coach Barry Trotz saw some progress despite the lack of a positive result.
Video: Coach Trotz talks after #CapsCanes
"Tonight I thought we played a really quick team that plays a pressure game, and I thought for the most part we were okay," says Trotz. "Our start was okay.
"We need a little more offense out of our forwards, there is no question. We've scored three five-on-five goals; that's disturbing with the quality of forwards that we have. We've got nothing from our top guys to this point in terms of production and points. But I trust that their skill and their pedigree will come out. I thought our effort was much better."
Washington will have one more chance to stoke up its attack; the Caps travel to St. Louis for a Sunday matinee match against the Blues, the final game of the Capitals' 2017 preseason slate.
Video: Niskanen, Smith-Pelly and Grubauer talk after game