WASHINGTON - The Carolina Hurricanes couldn't solve Ilya Samsonov in a 2-0 loss to the Washington Capitals.
Alex Ovechkin scored both goals for the Capitals, who claimed victory in the four-game regular-season series between the two Metropolitan Division rivals.
Here are five takeaways from Monday night in The District.
1. Shooting Blanks
For the third straight contest, the Hurricanes were involved in a shutout, though unlike the last two, this one did not go their way.
Ilya Samsonov made 38 saves on 41 shots in the Caps' 4-3 win in Raleigh a little over a week ago, and he followed up that performance with a 23-save shutout in this regular-season series finale.
"We saw each other quite a bit. It's a good team. Coming off a playoff series last year, it was a little intense, but I thought their intensity was higher tonight," Jordan Staal said. "Our group wasn't ready to go, and it showed."
"We had a couple looks," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "Their goalie made a couple nice saves, but we just didn't generate enough."
2. Parade to the Box
Aside from one curious penalty call late in the first period, the Hurricanes could not avoid the box in the opening 20 minutes, gifting the Capitals four power play opportunities.
"It obviously wasn't ideal," Brind'Amour said. "We were already kind of flat, and then that kind of took a lot of guys out of the game early."
And while the Canes made the first two kills seem fairly effortless, they continued to tempt fate in their parade to the box. Tripping. Slashing. Delay of game (puck over glass). Tripping.
"They played a good start. They pushed it, took it to us and drew some penalties," Brind'Amour said. "It wasn't our best game, that's for sure."
On the Caps' third power play, Alex Ovechkin blistered a shot from his office atop the near circle for his second goal of the game.
"Against that team, penalties are not great to take," Staal said. "I think in the first period we weren't ready to go. If we're not ready to go, we're going to start taking penalties. We were not moving our feet and too slow to pucks. It showed."
3. Chances to Strike Back
While the calls didn't go their way in the first period, the Hurricanes got their share of power play opportunities in the second.
The Canes got three consecutive looks on the man advantage and generated six shots on goal - including three shots on goal on their first two power plays before Washington even recorded a shot on goal in the period - but they couldn't get a puck past Samsonov.
"That could have been a big momentum [swing] in that second period if we could have snuck one in, especially on the power play," Staal said. "I thought we created a lot of penalties and played in their end more, but in general, that game wasn't the way we wanted to do it. It wasn't enough from everyone."
Video: CAR@WSH: Mrazek makes great sprawling save on Hagelin
The middle frame was an opportunity for the Canes to get at least one on the board via special teams, but they were unable to take advantage of the chances, which only made the deficit on the scoreboard seem even more daunting.
"We kind of got a little better traction, but it was kind of the reverse because we had the power plays. We never really got our game going," Brind'Amour said. "It was 2-0, but it didn't feel like we were going to have much push. It looked and felt like we were a little gassed. It might be that time of year when it's starting to catch up to you."
4. A Strange Game
Overall, it felt like a weird 60 minutes. The Hurricanes were whistled for four straight penalties in the first. The Capitals were whistled for three straight penalties in the second. The Canes took another pair of penalties in the third.
At times, it seemed like the officials were calling everything. Then, it seemed like they were calling nothing.
There wasn't a lot of flow or rhythm or pace. It was just strange.
"There were a lot of penalties both ways. We never got going, so it was just hard to get any rhythm," Brind'Amour said. "I was just waiting for something to kind of get going, and we just never got any traction."
And once the Caps jumped out to their 2-0 lead, they didn't allow the Canes much else, even when the visitors pushed back with a better second period.
"They're one of the best teams in the league for a reason. They know how to shut it down and slow the game down when they're up," Staal said. "It's a lot more difficult playing against that team when you're down."
5. The Final Message
No matter the state of officiating - it seemed inconsistent both ways, at best - the Hurricanes have to be more mindful of staying out of the box, especially in a first period when they already didn't have a lot of jump.
And, at the end of the day, you have to play the hand dealt to you. The Canes did a fairly good job of killing penalties, as they finished 5-for-6 on the kill, but it was that one goal against and the 0-for-3 mark on the power play in the second period that made the difference on the scoreboard.
"Penalties were penalties," Brind'Amour shrugged. "We took some that we can't afford to do because it does take you right out of the game when you're taking that many penalties. We did a decent job killing them, actually, but it was too many."
The Hurricanes return home for a brief stay before hitting the road once more for a Metropolitan Division tilt in Columbus on Thursday.