Capitals Beat Hurricanes 3-2 In Return Of Semyon Varlamov

Two goals in two periods from Nicklas Backstrom helped seal the victory in Varlamov's first start since October. Follow all the action at Japers Rink.

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Capitals Vs. Hurricanes: Brooks Laich Scores Gamewinner Off Power Play Deflection

The Capitals didn't make it look easy. They allowed Carolina back into the game with two early third period goals, but ultimately the better team prevailed.

The first Hurricanes goal was admittedly pretty. A slap pass from Joni Pitkanen found its way straight to its intended target Sergei Samsonov, who was able to put the puck past Semyon Varlamov. Four minutes later, the Hurricanes made the Capitals pay on the power play as Eric Staal collected a loose puck and knocked it into the net.

Washington rewarded its returning netminder though with just eight minutes to play. A slashing penalty was called on Justin Skinner of the Hurricanes when he took down Alex Ovechkin on a fast break. On the ensuing power play, Washington won the faceoff and sent a simple shot towards Justin Peters. The Carolina goaltender saved the puck, but could not clear the zone, sending the puck instead straight to Ovechkin. The captain took a shot from just inside the blue line, and an intentionally dragged deflection by Brooks Laich in front of the net turned out to be the gamewinner.

Varlamov had 30 saves in his first game since October 21 and just his second start of the season.

The Capitals return to action on Friday at 5:00 PM.

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Capitals Vs. Hurricanes: Second Nicklas Backstrom Goal Gives Caps 2-0 Lead

The last time the Capitals and Hurricanes met in Raleigh, Washington won 3-0.

After two goals in two periods, the Capitals are on pace to match that scoreline. And after two goals in two periods, Nicklas Backstrom is on pace for his first career regular season hat trick.

After scoring the first goal of the game late in the first period off a rebound from an Alex Ovechkin shot, Backstrom scored again early in the second. This time, he did most of the work himself. Backstrom started the goal sequence by holding the puck up amongst two Carolina players before feeding Ovechkin. Backstrom got the puck back quickly and used some fancy stickwork to beat a defender and elude goaltender Justin Peters for his second of the night.

Ovechkin has been very active tonight, leading all players with eight shots on goal. The captain obviously has taken his criticism very seriously by stepping up and setting an example for his teammates.

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Capitals Vs. Hurricanes: Nick Backstrom Converts For 1-0 Lead

In just his second NHL game of the year, Semyon Varlamov was tested early, but not often, as the Capitals were able to take a 1-0 lead in the first period, which is a huge improvement from their recent struggles in the first 20 minutes of games.

Varlamov stopped all six of the shots he faced in the period as the Capitals pounded Hurricanes goaltender Justin Peters with 13 shots. Only one shot went in, but it was a farily dominant performance.

The one goal came almost immediately after Washington killed off a Carolina power play that was the result off a penalty on Varlamov for delay of game. Alex Ovechkin served the penalty, and picked up the puck shortly after stepping out of the box. Ovechkin cranked a shot at Peters, who saved it initially but left a tasty rebound for Nicklas Backstrom. The center converted to make it 1-0.

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Capitals Vs. Hurricanes: Caps Turn To Semyon Varlamov With Hopes Of Bouncing Back

Following two five-goal losses in the past three games, the Washington Capitals decided that they need to make a change. They need to find some spark.

The change is the return of Semyon Varlamov in goal tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. Will he be the spark also? We'll find out in 60 minutes.

According to Mike Vogel of WashingtonCaps.com, Bruce Boudreau hopes the two big losses were nothing more than an anomaly.

"I think it’s safe to say that in games against Atlanta and [New Jersey Monday] night, the first periods – for whatever reason – they came out sleeping," says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau of his team's performance in its two most recent road games. "That has to get better. More times than not, our work ethic is more than fine. We’ve outworked teams a lot of times and that’s why we’ve been successful with four lines working.

"I’m hoping it’s an anomaly. You don’t like to say every team goes through it, because then that puts you in an excuse mode. But it’s something that’s new to us, and we just have to deal with it."

The Capitals defeated the Hurricanes 3-0 when they last played in Raleigh just under a month ago. Will they have as much luck tonight?

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