Analysis from Washington
→ The Carolina Hurricanes' three-game winning streak came screeching to a halt when they met the NHL's best team. The high-flying Washington Capitals jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first period en route to their 10th straight win at home and the victory in the season series in a 5-0 shutout decision.
"We had a good start to the game," Jay McClement said. "They got a lot of momentum off that [power-play goal] and kind of took over from there."
Video: CAR Recap: Hurricanes overpowered in 5-0 loss
→ Perhaps this game would have turned out differently had the Hurricanes been able to capitalize on what was a dominant start to this game. In the first five minutes, the Canes controlled play in the offensive zone and were outshooting the Capitals 6-0.
The Capitals then capitalized on their first man advantage opportunity of the night about halfway through the period, as Alex Ovechkin hammered a shot from his sweet stop atop the left circle. Three minutes later, Brett Connolly's 11th goal of the season increased the Caps' lead to two goals, and from there the Hurricanes were chasing.
"It seemed like they took over from there and started to be up and down a little bit more," McClement said. "They were getting chances off the rush. We knew we couldn't play that game with them."
Tonight marked the ninth straight home game in which the Capitals have tallied at least five goals.
"They have a lot of skill throughout their lineup," McClement said. "They were making plays and breaking out quickly. When you do that, you're just chasing your shift every time."
"They have so many skilled players," Eddie Lack said. "They have four really, really good lines. It's tough to match up against them."
→ The Hurricanes had two power play opportunities in the second period and one early in the third, but they were held without a shot for the entirety of those six minutes. Their power play in the third period generated consistent pressure in the offensive zone, but they were still unable to get the puck through bodies and sticks to Braden Holtby.
At the other end of the ice, Washington converted on two of its three power-play chances.
"That's a big difference in the game," head coach Bill Peters said. "If you're going to stay with them, you've got to keep up. If you lose the specialty teams battle in this building, you're probably going to lose the game."
→ Lars Eller and Evegeny Kuznetsov each scored a goal in a 27-second span in the third period to make it a four-goal game, and Marcus Johansson tallied on a power play in the last six minutes of the game to stretch the score to 5-0.
From there, Washington was able to shut it down and limit the Canes to just 23 total shots on goal.
→ Eddie Lack made his return to the Hurricanes crease, starting his first game in the NHL since Nov. 6. In between then and now, Lack suffered two concussions, the recovery being a sometimes frustrating wait-and-see process for the 29-year-old Swedish netminder. Lack seemed to settle into the game more in the second period, but the Canes couldn't solve Holtby at the other end.
"I feel like I was chasing the game in the first. I was all over the place. Maybe I wanted it too much. I feel like I settled down in the second and made some good saves," Lack said. "One part of me feels like it's fun being back and playing and one part of me is just disappointed."
"It's good to get him back in. It's good to get him in, and we needed to get him in. He's put a lot of work in in order to get to this point," Peters said. "I thought he settled in. I thought he was fine."
→ One game remains for the Hurricanes before their five-day bye week, as they head to Dallas for a Saturday afternoon matinee versus the Stars.
"It's big. You want to go into the break with a good taste in your mouth," Lee Stempniak said. "We need all the points we can. We see the standings and know where we are."
"3-1 in our last four, so I feel pretty good. I don't feel good right now, but the big picture, the five-game segment, we've got a chance to get eight points out of 10," Peters said. "That's how I look at it."