Capitals Vs. Hurricanes: Caps Win A Close One Against Hurricanes In Carolina, 3-2

The Caps won a gritty divisional road game against Carolina. Alex Ovechkin ended his scoring drought and was able to help the Caps build positive momentum towards the Winter Classic.

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Capitals Vs. Hurricanes: Caps Win A Close One Against Hurricanes In Carolina 3-2

As per recent history, the Capitals won a game against the Hurricanes in close fashion.

The Caps started slow, as they were sluggish coming out of the first period, allowing Carolina to start the game aggressively. But after Semyon Varlomov weathered the storm early, the Caps struck. Mathieu Perreault was able to score Washington's first goal of the night in the 1st, but suffered a brutal hit that knocked him out of the game late in the 1st period.

In the beginning of the second, the Canes responded with a goal from Jussi Jokinen that tied the game up 1-1. But the second period belonged to Alex Ovechkin. Ovi snatched the puck in the neutral zone way from Carolina and spotted David Steckel for the wrister to give the Caps a 2-1 lead. The captain continued his stellar second period by finally ending his long scoring drought, a broken play that where Mike Green's shot deflected to a wide open Ovi, giving the Caps a 3-1 lead going into the third.

But the Hurricanes drew closer in the third. Tuomo Ruutu scored on a tip-in from Jay Harrison to cut the Caps lead to 3-2. From there it was a nail biter all the way till the end. The Caps had a chance to ice the game iwth a power pay late in the period (just their second of the day), but were unable to cash in. They simply outlasted the Canes in the end and earned themselves a gritty win in the division. 

Semyon Varlamov was 33/35 on save opportunities and turned in a solid performance. He was especially solid during the early moments when the Canes were on the offensive, and again when shutting out the Canes during power plays.

The Caps now have one game to go until their much anticipated matchup with the Penguins in the Winter Classic. If they play well against the Canadiens, they can hopefully gain some positive momentum heading into the big game on New Years Day.

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Capitals Vs. Hurricanes: Ovechkin Ends Scoring Drought, And Caps Take 3-1 Lead After Two Periods

As fast as the Canes started the first period, that's about  how fast the Caps started the second. They were very aggressive, taking the periods first 10 shots before the Canes had their first. Unfortunately for the Caps, they were unable to cash in early. 

And conversely for the Canes, they were able to cash in on limited chances early in the second period. Jussi Jokinen scored his first goal in December when the Canes caught the Caps napping on defense. The confused Caps defense was a step late in getting back on defense, giving the Canes an easy 2 on 1 situation. From there, Jokenin cashed in on a snap shot, tying the game at 1-1.

But it was a score that stood briefly, as the Caps struck back three minutes later. The Canes committed a turnover in the  neutral zone and Alex Ovechkin found David Steckel, who scored on a wrister to put the Caps up again 2-1.

Ovechkin was not done there. Towards the end of the period, Mike Green looks to score on a set play, but had the puck deflected directly to Ovi's side. The wide open Ovechkin scored on the snap shot, giving him his 13th of the season, ending his scoring drought, and more importantly, giving the Caps a 3-1 lead at the end of two periods.

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Capitals Vs. Hurricanes: Caps Are Up 1-0 After First Period As Mathieu Perreault Scores

After the Caps close loss to the Penguins, it was very important to see how the team would respond against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Caps had already won their last three against the Canes, and this game would give them a chance to make it four in a row and gain ground in the Southeast Division.

The first period could certainly be divided into halves, as each had very different tempos. The first part of the period was a very aggressive one for Carolina, as they had numerous chances inside the offensive zone to go up early. But thanks to goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Varly weathered the storm early, finishing the period 16-16 on save chances. 

The rest of the period revolved around Mathieu Perreault. Perreault scored a beautiful backhand shot given to him by Brooks Laich, giving the Caps the early 1-0 lead. Despite the fact that the Caps only had 8 shots in the period, they certainly made the most of it.

The second Perreault moment came when Tim Gleason delivered a hard hit, cutting Perrault, and causing the Caps training staff to come to his aid. After the hit it was clear that the physicality of the game seemed to pick up as the extra curricular activity began between the two squads.

Now it's starting to look like the type of  physical, in division match up we are all accustomed to.

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Capitals Vs. Hurricanes: Caps Head South For Important Southeast Division Matchup

After Saturday's prelude to the Winter Classic against the Pittsburgh Penguins was a classic in itself, the Washington Capitals cannot afford to look past their next two opponents before next Saturday's rematch. Sunday night in Raleigh, the Caps will face off with the Carolina Hurricanes with Southeast Division implications at stake.

As the Caps were going through their eight-game losing streak, their lead in the Southeast Division evaporated. Washington now sits in a tie for first with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but are technically iin second because the Lightning have two games in hand. The Atlanta Thrashers are just two points behind Washington and the Hurricanes are 11 points behind.

For the Caps to win, they will need to find their missing power play; they are just 6-for-49 in their last 13 games. Also missing in action is the goal-scoring of Washington's usual contributors: Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom. Green scored Saturday for the first time since November 14, but Ovechkin hasn't scored since December 6, Semin since November 28 and Backstrom since December 1.

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