Nationals

Hurricanes-Maple Leafs Preview

Hurricanes-Maple Leafs Preview

The Carolina Hurricanes are generating plenty of shots. They're just not capitalizing on their opportunities as often as they'd like and have been unable to gain much traction in the season's early going as a result.

They get a chance to reverse that trend Monday night against the Maple Leafs at Toronto, where they've had success while dominating the series of late.

Carolina has won six of eight in Toronto and eight of 11 overall in the series, averaging 4.4 goals in those victories. Carolina (3-4-0), though, has lost two of three and gave up five goals for the third time this season in a 5-3 loss at Philadelphia on Saturday, the first stop on a season-long six-game road trip.

The Hurricanes recorded 42 shots for the third time but only found the back of the net on three. They're averaging 38.1 shots on goal - the most in the NHL - but have scored 18 times on 267 total shots for a 6.7 percentage that ranks last.

Carolina's power play has been ineffective, scoring on 1 of 6 chances against the Flyers and only 4 of 36 opportunities (11.1 percent) on the season.

"Our power play just wasn't good enough, I think," Eric Staal told NHL.com. "We need to execute a little bit better. There were some plays we could have had but we just didn't make it happen."

Staal and Jeff Skinner have provided most of Carolina's scoring, accounting for 11 of the team's 18 goals. Free-agent signing Alexander Semin has just one goal on 31 shots.

The Maple Leafs are 4-4-0 and are 1-3-0 at home - their worst start on home ice since dropping their first six home contests in 2009-10.

They strung together their first consecutive wins overall before suffering a 1-0 home loss to Boston on Saturday. Toronto victimized itself with sloppy play around the Bruins' blue line, often giving up the puck while only mounting 21 shots.

The Leafs are averaging 2.0 goals at home compared to 3.3 in road games.

"That's the way they play, and they're a good team," coach Randy Carlyle said. "They did what they had to do to be effective to play a road game and we didn't do enough of the things that we're capable of to establish a strong home game in the 60 minutes."

Starring in the loss was goaltender James Reimer, who stopped 33 of the 34 shots he faced. Reimer is off to a solid start, posting a .922 save percentage while starting Toronto's last four games. Ben Scrivens' save percentage is .881.

Reimer has been solid in four starts against Carolina, going 3-0-1 with a shutout and a 1.48 goals-against average.

"James Reimer gave us a chance," Carlyle said. "That's all you can ask of your goaltender."

Despite taking 36 shots in eight games, Phil Kessel is still scoreless and seeking his 100th goal with Toronto. He had nine goals in his first eight games last year before finishing with a team-best 37.

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3 things to watch as the Nationals try to even the series with Colorado

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3 things to watch as the Nationals try to even the series with Colorado

Here are three things to watch for as the Nationals try to even the series in Colorado: 

1. Brian Dozier's slow start to 2019 seems to be in the rearview mirror. The second baseman hit his third long-ball in four games Monday night inside Coors Field. 

2. How long will Anthony Rendon be held out of the lineup? The third baseman is nursing his left elbow after being hit by a Jose Urena pitch Saturday in Miami. 

3. One of the MLB's best closers remains unsigned 20+ games into the season. Craig Kimbrel could very well help solve an NL East division-wide problem

Coming Up:

Tuesday, 4/23: Nationals @ Rockies, 8:40 p.m. ET, Coors Field

Wednesday, 4/24: Nationals @ Rockies, 3:10 p.m. ET, Coors Field

Friday, 4/26: Padres @ Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park

Download the MyTeams app for even more Nationals content, and check out the latest episode of the Racing Presidents podcast below.

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A frustrating Game 6 loss, but Caps can't dwell on the negative

A frustrating Game 6 loss, but Caps can't dwell on the negative

RALEIGH — By the end of the night the frustration was evident. Three times the Capitals have played at PNC Arena during this Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series and three times they have left the ice stick-smashingly angry. 

Capitals coach Todd Reirden screamed at the officials. Alex Ovechkin earned a game misconduct after a mock wave following a late penalty call. By then the Carolina Hurricanes had already assured there would be one final game in this closer-than-expected series with a 5-2 win. Now both teams face elimination with Game 7 looming Wednesday at Capital One Arena. 

Washington’s anger was understandable. Alex Ovechkin apparently poked home the game-tying goal with 9:26 remaining. But while the Capitals celebrated, referee Kyle Rehman blew his whistle. In his view, Ovechkin had shoved Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek’s pads to force the puck into the net. 

The NHL Situation Room in Toronto upheld that call on the ice after the Capitals tied it. Just 1:24 later, ex-Capitals forward Justin Williams stuck a dagger in the heart of his old team with a deflected goal to give the Hurricanes a 4-2 lead.

"I don't think anyone expected it to be easy,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “They played well all series. We were up 2-0 and we were probably fortunate to be up 2-0 and we've been good on home ice and now we have a Game 7 and it is probably good that we have home ice."

There were other issues on Monday. Dmitry Orlov was whistled for embellishment in the second period that denied Washington a power play. Carolina tied the game 2-2 at 1:56 of the second period when referees – in the Capitals’ view – missed an obvious slash by Sebastian Aho on defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler behind the net. His attempted clear was flubbed and Aho found Teuvo Teravainen alone in front for an easy goal.

None of it matters now. The Capitals didn’t play well enough to win anyway, especially in a ragged second period that ominously looked like the 5-0 Hurricanes win in Game 3. Reirden himself admitted that Carolina earned the breaks it got. Goalie Braden Holtby was especially critical of his team for not building on a dominant 6-0 win at home in Game 5 on Saturday. 

“I don’t know. I thought we played pretty well to come out and we just faded,” Holtby said. “I’m not sure why. At this point it doesn’t matter. It’s over with and it’s down to one game.”

The challenge will be leaving all of that negativity in the PNC Arena locker room. One player walked away and said to no one in particular “No goal….what a call.” The sarcasm dripped. But it can’t follow the Capitals back home to Washington. This group of players has plenty of experience putting bad playoff losses behind them. 

If anything carries over into Game 7, however, they could be in trouble. Those days are thought to be long over after last spring’s Cup. And maybe they are. But the Capitals will have to forget about what happened in Raleigh. They have one last chance. It can't be clouded by what happened here.  

"It's over. Again, right now nothing you can do,” Ovechkin said. “After fight, you can't do anything. It was a good battle. Good for them, they win Game 6, and you know, Game 7 is going to be much interesting. We know how to play that. Pressure on both teams, but it's a good chance for us to beat them at home." 

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