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Capitals play 'most complete game' in 3-0 win over Hurricanes

Michal Neuvirth recorded his first NHL shutout in a 29-save performance in which he out-dueled former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Cam Ward to lead the Capitals to a 3-0 win over the Hurricanes.

While Neuvirth's effort was crucial in a game that was particularly close for the majority of the contest, it was also probably Washington's best 60-minute effort (save a few penalties) so far this season.

"I thought that was easily our most complete game," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "You get contributions from your fourth line, the penalty kill; I thought the goaltender was great and everybody did a good job."

The Capitals blocked 16 shots, dished out 20 hits and won 58 percent (41 of 70) faceoffs against the Hurricanes. It might not have been the explosive offensive performance that folks have grown accustomed to from this group, but it's more of the effort that they've been looking for from themselves.

"I think its imperative that we play like that every night," said Mike Green after his first full game back. "Maybe we didn't score five or six goals, but the whole game we were up one goal, we played consistently, they got frustrated and we were able to put two more in. But even if we win by 1-0, that's a great game for us."

Here are some more notes and quotes from tonight's game:
--Perhaps Nicklas Backstrom's shot into a wide-open Carolina net off a Mike Knuble rebound, which gave the Capitals a two-goal cushion, will help spark the top line. Boudreau certainly hopes so.

"I was really happy to see that," Boudreau said. "For Nicky to get a goal, Ovi to get an assist, because you see them pressing, cheating a little bit, trying to get the offensive goal and maybe that will get them back to playing like they normally can."

Backstrom added the empty-net goal for the final margin of victory and the top line also created its fair share of scoring chances and strong shifts in the Carolina goal prior to breaking through on the scoresheet.

Also, if you missed it on Twitter, Corey Masisak had the stunning stat of the night to put the first line's relative lack of scoring in perspective: Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos has 18 points in nine games, while the Capitals' top line has 19 points in nine games.

--For the most part, the Capitals managed their shift lengths rather well. None of the forwards played more than 20 minutes, which may come in handy Thursday night against Minnesota.

"I don't know if any forward had 20 minutes tonight and when they don't do that we usually are successful," Boudreau said. "You play 24, 25 minutes you don't get a chance to recover as a forward. It's a lot easier playing those kind of minutes as a defensemen. As a forward it's pretty exhausting. We're meeting a team that's waiting for us, it's Doubly important we have our minutes controlled tonight."

--I'll have more on Green's real first game back and how he is "if not 100 [percent healthy], very close" up on the blog Thursday morning, so be sure to check back for that.

By Katie Carrera  | October 27, 2010; 10:57 PM ET
Categories:  Carolina Hurricanes, Nicklas Backstrom  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Open thread: Capitals at Hurricanes
Next: Mike Green says he's nearly back to normal

Comments

No comments, huh? Well. This thread doesn't say anything we didn't say on the other.

By God it's getting chilly think I'll turn in.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 28, 2010 1:55 AM | Report abuse

Welcome tominsocal1 to a result of living on the left coast.
We usually watch the Caps' games while relaxing from work and before preparing our dinner. After we get back from our nightly dog walk, everyone back in the midatlantic area is long asleep.
I enjoy the reading of events and opinions in the various websites at this time of night. Makes me a little saner.

Posted by: AZSportsJunkie | October 28, 2010 2:27 AM | Report abuse

Interesting that there was little to complain about in that game and now very few come on here to post.

Posted by: capscoach | October 28, 2010 6:35 AM | Report abuse

That was a good game last night. Some may say if not for Neuvy we don't win but to ignore that Cam Ward didn't make a few game savers would be ignoring the obvious. He robbed Ovi as bad as Neuvy robbed Staal in the 2nd. I hit the road tonight and found out the NHL Network is broadcasting the Caps game. Talk about luck! The family I am visiting does not have NHL Center Ice nor CSN-MA, but they DO have NHL Network. It will be waiting on their DVR when I get there!

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 28, 2010 6:57 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach

On very few comments on this thread:

1) Guess none of us got the memo that a new thread was afoot so we all kept commenting on the last one.

2) We have too many "early to bed" types here who went to bed after the game.

3) We have a fan base of Negative Nellies who don't know what to do when things actually go right for the team.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | October 28, 2010 6:59 AM | Report abuse

That was finally the type of effort that should be expected out of this team on a nightly basis. I know there will be stinkers here and there but the six of the previous eight games this year have been "stinkers" and that won't do.....

1. They played pretty responsibly defensively other that Carlson getting stuck up ice a couple times and Ovie floating around the neutral zone while the Canes were in the Ozone a couple times. I even have to give props to Sloan, he played a pretty decent game.

2. They played dump and chase!! Whopppeeeee!!!

3. The dump and chase led to long periods of cycling in the offensive zone tiring the Canes out. Once again, Whooooopppppeeeeeee!!!!

4. The forwards backchecked as a team and helped the D clog the neutral zone so the Canes had a difficult time gaining the zone.

5. Neuvy was absolutely stellar as always and congrats on his first NHL shut out.


Although some may say this is a more boring style of hockey to watch I say no way! Love watching a team working like a machine which is what they did for the most part last evening and playing a good defensive game, hope they keep it up!

Props to that 4th line, they played a hell of a game.

Posted by: PhilR | October 28, 2010 7:20 AM | Report abuse

Hey, CapsFan 75 - I've been lurking here for two years and enjoyed the posts, especially tmacyao. I want to know what rock Peter Laviollete had to crush the New Jersey and Montreal scissors. Why didn't the Montreal "Hab n' Grab" work on the Flyers? Why wasn't Halak invincible against them like he was against Gabby and Bylsma, two minor league hockey coaches bought up in mid season? It was like watching the English defeat the Spanish Armada. Last year one of the posters here predicted the Flyers would crush the Habs just like they crushed the Devils. I know if playoff hockey, guys will lie down to stop a shot, which they won't do in the regular season because they'd get hurt. But I've never gotten a complete answer to this question. I was hoping for a column on it in the Post, and maybe Tarik explained it and I missed it. I would welcome an answer other than the hot goalie, which I don't buy three years in a row.

Posted by: flynnie321 | October 28, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, as much as I hate to say this (you all may want to save this post for future reference) Flash actually played a good strong game last night. He was good in the faceoff circle and I actually saw him BACKCHECKING!! I about jumped out of my chair the first time I saw him being the first forward back and the it happened quite a few more times.

Like I said, save this post as praise from me going Flash's way certainly does not happen every day!

Posted by: PhilR | October 28, 2010 7:28 AM | Report abuse

@PhilR

Good job admitting that...funny though that I really didn't notice Flahs much during the game (which also means I didn't notice him making any glaring mistakes)

Posted by: capscoach | October 28, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Also thought BB did a good job rolling the lines. Caps should not be too tired for the Wild tonight.

Posted by: capscoach | October 28, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

@flynnie

You could argue that 2 7 game series of blocking unprecedented amounts of shots finally took their toll. I also think the Philly being a more physical team was better equipped to deal with that. The 2 playoff eries before that were not blamed on hot goalies.

Posted by: capscoach | October 28, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

We were at the game last night. It was a lot of fun. The atmosphere in the arena is nothing like the Booth, though. Even before NB19's goal, the "Caniacs" were mostly pretty quiet. This was their home opener, and we sort of expected more of an enthusiastic showing by both the Canes and the crowd. Oh well, we got to see the best all around effort so far this season by the Caps, and Neuvy's first NHL shutout. Yay!

Posted by: getjiggly1 | October 28, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Asking for an explanation other than a hot goalie excuse is getting as old as the hot goalie excuse. My GOD people, let it go. The Caps blew it, OK, they blew it.

The St. Louis Blues obviously didn't feel like Halak wasn't a difference maker though. He landed the biggest goaltender deal by FAR this past summer. He isn't making it look like a bad investment for the Blues thus far either. As far as the Habs letting him go, they have always believed in Price and knew that based on how he played last year they could bring him back for much less than it would cost them to bring Halak back and they were willing to take the rish because they believed in his abilities. Well, the Habs don't look wrong at this point either. Price has played well and the Habs are paying 5.5mil for him over the next two years while the Blues will be paying Halak 7.5mil over the next two years.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 28, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

well guys after I finish up groving the hot 5 hole I made myself a big ol steak & cheese with saute schrooms / onions lots of mayo - tomato - hot green peppers and the Jumbo jet speciality is the western fries lightly sprinkled with old bay for Gabby . Yes guys you guess right I am the Washington Capitals in-flight chef. I prepare my dinners on the tarmack while the team is repacking . It takes a little over a hour to prepare a 11 PM takeoff dinner . Midway through the 2nd period the Coleman grill is positioned behind the (Capitals 1 )transporter a 2006 Boeing 737 with a complete make over . I love my job.

Posted by: terryreece | October 28, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

That was their best game of the year. They actually forechcecked. they dumped the puck. Great goaltending and great defensive effort by every Capital. BB seemed to also coach this evening as well. They managed their shifts better. Tonight should be an interesting game.

Posted by: pkme | October 28, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

That was a great win. I was glad to see the Caps play a more responsible game than they have been playing as of late. Now I want to see the Caps play this sort of game against the Wild. One game at a time...

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | October 28, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: sporttraveler | October 28, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: sporttraveler | October 28, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: sporttraveler | October 28, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I think that technically that stat page is wrong on Neuvy. It shows a shorty goal. While they had an extra man - pulled the goalie- its not short handed as in a PK. The official games stats don't show it as a shorty. I suppose it can be argued that it needs to be accounted for somehow.

Posted by: jdhoover | October 28, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Good solid game and good effort by just about everyone. Would've like to see this effort against Boston.

Anyone see the show on NHL network called Oil Change? It follows the Oilers as they go through their selection process in 2010 draft, and some of training camp. Sort of like Hard Knocks. Very cool series. The point of this is that watching Jordan Eberle is both mesmerizing and sickening at the same time. To think that he was drafted one spot after Anton the quitter is the sickening part. Eberle, who would have looked good at center on this team, is in a whole other world than Gus, and I wish we had some ballsy media in this town to ask George why 2 players in the same draft year quit hockey because they no longer love the game, while the player drafted one spot after Anton seems to be flourishing out west.

Posted by: Fletch22 | October 28, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

damn, i trakky wish i didn't have to work last night. oh well.. will tune in tonight!

Posted by: j762 | October 28, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

It's good to see an excellent game from the Caps! I like seeing the comment pages lacking the "oh my god" we have to make this and that move RIGHT now or the season is lost.
Like I said about 2 weeks ago, let them have a few weeks and lets see how it goes (and I still want an upgrade from Erskine and Sloan!).

Posted by: chriscaps | October 28, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

"(and I still want an upgrade from Erskine and Sloan!)".....chriscaps

Rag on Sloan all you want, but if you haven't noticed Erskine's contributions thus far I suppose you never will...I'll just say that team success isn't predicated upon a collection of individuals as much as it is the sum of the whole....sure we could replace Erskine with Shultz/Alzner/Poti clone but then the team as a whole would sorely miss the attributes he brings to the table...so enough with the Erskine bashing and recognize that the team is getting exactly what they need from the 5-6th slot in Erskine

Posted by: vermontcaps | October 28, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

"Like I said about 2 weeks ago, let them have a few weeks and lets see how it goes (and I still want an upgrade from Erskine and Sloan!)."
Posted by: chriscaps | October 28, 2010 11:02 AM

Sloan, yes, shouldn't be hard to find a player better than him. But Erskine plays a role on this team that nobody else has been able to fill since Brenden Witt. And, he's playing some of the best hockey of his career. As the season goes on, I think you'll see a lot more appreciation for what he contributes.

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | October 28, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I know we all talk about the "hot goalie" excuse, but I just wanted to add this.

I have to watch caps games in nhl center ice. so i got the carolina feed for the game. one of the announcers talked about how GMGM said one of the problems was when their flights were delayed and they got home really late. he said things weren't the same after that.

So there's another excuse. Thank god for more excuses.

that being said and done, just wanted to say again great team game last night. let's hope it continues.

Posted by: natresgroup | October 28, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

If we could have:
Green, Schultz
Carlson, Poti
Alzner, Willie Mitchell
Erskine (Sloan 1st callup from Hershey)

That would be much better. Notice Erskine is still on the team as the 7th d-man.

Posted by: chriscaps | October 28, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

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