Capitals downgrade Hurricanes 3-2, Clinch 11th Playoff Berth in 12 Seasons

TLDR: Goals by Brett Connolly, Jakub Vrana, and Nic Dowd lift the Capitals over the Carolina Hurricanes, guaranteeing a post-season appearance, and earn 100 points for the 5th consecutive season.


Tonight, the Washington Capitals hoped to clinch their playoff berth. A win tonight would also allow the Capitals to reach the 100 point mark for the 5th consecutive season.  With a win, or an overtime Caps’ loss and the Canadiens/Blue Jackets’ game being decided in regulation, Washington would snag a playoff spot with four games remaining. Having won all 3 previous match-ups with Carolina, a win tonight would mean another regular season series sweep.


T.J. Oshie did not dress for tonights’ match-up, and therefore Andre Burakovsky would be entrusted with the second line right-winger spot. Paired with Carl Hagelin and Jakub Vrana, one could just call that second line the ‘speedy second’. Just four minutes into the first period, Nino Neiderreiter scored his 22nd goal of the season, giving the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead. Shortly thereafter, Brett Connolly would tie it, as he also scored his 22nd of the season.

Once Connolly scored the equalizer, the Hurricanes gave the Caps very little room to operate. The combined speed and shot generation from Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen of the Canes gave the good guys some trouble, but Caps’ goaltender Braden Holtby was able to keep them off the board in the first. With no power plays to speak of, the Caps and Canes headed into the intermission tied 1-1.


In the second period, we hoped the Capitals would tighten up, especially in front of the goal. Carolina had way too many good looks from the point, and with eight players with 15 or more goals, it’s only a matter of time until they score. The Capitals played a much more dominating period. A Canes 2-on-1 was thwarted by a beautiful save by Holtby half-way through the period. Warren Foegle would give the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead as Carolina tied up defenseman Nick Jensen and drew Holtby out of the net. It was apparent that the Capitals were not playing as carefully as they had on Tuesday. If the Caps want to get out of PNC Arena with a win, they will need to eliminate the turnovers. The Capitals would receive the first power play of the night, as Alex Ovechkin was tripped up by former Cap Justin Williams. Unfortunately, the Capitals were unable to tie it up with the man-advantage. Carolina would lead 2-1, as the second period came to a close.


Through two period, shots on goal heavily favored Carolina once the Caps scored their single goal. The Hurricanes played like they needed the two points. The Capitals could seal their playoff spot with at least one point, but a win would certainly be preferable. Jakub Vrana tied the game 2-2, tallying his 23rd goal of the season, just 120 seconds into the final frame.

Nic Dowd would give the Capitals their first lead of the game, off a deflection right in front of McElhinney. Figurative and literal redemption for Nick Jensen, who would be credited with the primary assist. The goal would be the game-winner.

Moments later, however, the Hurricanes would get their first power play of the night, as Brooks Orpik would go off for tripping. The Capitals would successfully kill of the penalty. Despite the Canes’ head coach Rod Brind’amour electing to lift netminder Curtis McElhinney, the Capitals would sweep another regular season series, winning in Raleigh 3-2.


FiCP’s Three Takeaways of the Game

  1. The Capitals now are guaranteed a chance to repeat.
  2. Overall, the defense is improving.
  3. Braden Holtby is playoff ready.

Leave a Reply