WASHINGTON – The Capitals are the defending champs no more. After taking a 2-0 lead in the first period of Game 7 on Wednesday, Washington was stunned as the Carolina Hurricanes rallied for the 4-3 overtime win
The Hurricanes now advance to face Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders int he second round starting on Friday. Washington, meanwhile, is left to ponder what could have been as their quest to repeat is now officially over.
Here are five reasons the Caps saw their season come to an end on Wednesday.
The second period
The Caps took control of the game early with two goals in the first seven minutes of the game. With all the momentum on their side and the crowd going berserk, Washington could have ridden that momentum to the comfortable win much as they did in Game 5. Unlike in Game 5, however, Carolina was able to find life in the middle frame with two goals of their own.
Sebastian Aho got the Hurricanes on the board with a shorthanded tally. Evgeny Kuznetsov restored Washington’s two-goal lead, but Teuvo Teravainen responded just over three minutes later to make sure the Hurricanes stayed within one through the second period.
A one-goal deficit with a period to play is hardly insurmountable and a confident Carolina team left the ice through 40 minutes despite the fact that they were still trailing. They had life and that meant they had a chance.
A shorthanded goal
Up 2-0, the Caps were handed a power play in the second period after Jordan Martinook was called for tripping Nick Jensen. Rather than stepping on Carolina’s throat, however, Washington instead allowed the Hurricanes right back into the game as they gave up a shorthanded goal to Aho.
After a scrum in front of the net Carolina’s net, Brett Pesce came away with the puck. Aho immediately went out to the neutral zone and began tapping his stick for the puck. Instead of just clearing it, Pesce passed it up to Aho. John Carlson was in good position to defend him, but had to drift more to the middle with Teuvo Teravainen streak to the front. Aho saw he had some room and skated and chipped an innocent looking puck at Braden Holtby, probably looking for the rebound to set up Teravainen. Instead of setting up Teravainen, however, the puck bounced back out to Aho. Carlson and dove in front to block the shot and was out of position to defend leaving Aho all alone to shoot his own rebound and score.
Teravainen’s lightning fast shot
This play turned into one of the biggest plays of the game. Kuznetsov responded to Aho’s goal to make it 3-1 Caps, but Carolina was determined to score before the second period came to an end.
If you blinked, you would have missed it.
After a prolonged offensive shift for the Hurricanes, the Caps were on their heels. Pesce tried to pass from the blue line, but Carl Hagelin got his stick there to block it sending the puck bouncing toward the slot. Aho went after it, but missed. Instead it came to Teravainen who took one touch to control, then fired the quick shot before anyone realized what had happened.
Suddenly it was a one-goal game and Carolina had life.
Jordan Staal's game-tying goal
After taking momentum at the end of the second period, that certainly carried over to the start of the third. The Hurricanes were a step faster than Washington out of the game and it did not take long for them to get the game-tying tally.
Staal streaked into the offensive zone off a line change by Washington. The pass was perfect to lead Staal into the zone and he had enough time to aim and fire the wrister before Jonas Siegenthaler was able to get over to challenge him. Tie game.
An overtime deflection
It was only a matter of time. The Caps may have started off as the better team, but Carolina took control and were easily the best team in overtime.
The Hurricanes fired off the first nine shots of the extra period before Washington was able to get a puck on the net. It only made it to a second overtime because of the brilliant play of Braden Holtby. Holtby made 17 saves in both overtime before he was finally beaten.
It was a deflection by Brock McGinn that ultimately ended the Caps' season after over 90 minutes of hockey.
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