Hurricanes Team Report
The Hurricanes are back in a bit of an offensive holding pattern with three consecutive losses, though all of them were close (one by one goal and two in shootouts).
The problem has been some inconsistencies among lines. Center Eric Staal's line has been active with the return of winger Erik Cole. And center Rod Brind'Amour has had his group on a role until Saturday night.
Somewhere lost in this is a slow decline of center Matt Cullen's line after he was directing one of the most active groups in February.
This tends to hurt the Hurricanes in putting constant pressure on opposing teams. They generated only six third-period shots at Washington even though for the first half of that period they were behind.
It was the third road game in four nights, so the Hurricanes will welcome a gap in the schedule. There's a three-day break before a home game Wednesday night against New Jersey.
Carolina picked up only two points out of possible six points on the road trip, giving more importance to the home games.
CAPITALS 5, HURRICANES 4 (SO): The Hurricanes rallied with two goals in the final 21 minutes of regulation but they failed to do any damage after that and had to settle for one team point with the shootout loss. They were the aggressors in overtime, obviously in a more desperate situation than the Capitals when it comes to positioning for the playoffs. Penalties hurt the Hurricanes because the Capitals converted on three power plays in four chances. The Hurricanes had killed 86 percent of opponents' power plays in the last 25 games combined.
Notes and Quotes
--Captain Rod Brind'Amour's five-game points streak ended in rather mysterious fashion. He didn't even manage a shot on goal Saturday night at Washington.
--The Hurricanes didn't win Saturday night and C Eric Staal scored a goal. That's a rarity. The team is 18-3-1 in games in which Staal scores a goal and 24-8-3 when he contributes a point.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The biggest thing is the wins. As a group, we're feeling pretty good and pretty confident." -- C Eric Staal, though the team has stalled with a rough patch with a pair of shootout losses and a one-goal setback in its last three games.
Strategy and Personnel
GOALTENDERS: Cam Ward, Michael Leighton.
DEFENSEMEN: Dennis Seidenberg, Tim Gleason, Niclas Wallin, Joni Pitkanen, Joe Corvo, Anton Babchuk.
FIRST LINE: Ray Whitney, Eric Staal, Erik Cole.
SECOND LINE: Chad LaRose, Matt Cullen, Tuomo Ruutu.
THIRD LINE: Sergei Samsonov, Rod Brind'Amour, Patrick Eaves.
FOURTH LINE: Ryan Bayda, Jussi Jokinen, Tim Conboy
--LW Jussi Jokinen has been designated to participate in two shootouts during the past week. So even though he has received limited amount of playing time during games, he's been pegged as one of the players good in the one-on-one situations post-overtime.
--D Joni Pitkanen was back in the lineup after missing one game with an injury. He wasn't hindered at all based on his team-leading 26-plus minutes of ice time and plus-3 rating.
--D Niclas Wallin has supplied several memorable goals among his relatively few NHL scores during his career for the Hurricanes. His third-period tally Saturday night at Washington might go down as one of those if the Hurricanes end up in the playoffs by one point because Wallin's goal tied the game and helped the team secure one team point.
--RW Scott Walker played one game after a concussion and now is listed out with an upper-body injury sustained in early March. His status is day-to-day.