Shorthanded Capitals can’t hold off the Hurricanes


RALEIGH, N.C. — Darcy Kuemper was locked in from the start of Monday’s tilt with the fiery Carolina Hurricanes, turning away shot after shot in a tight matchup of Metropolitan Division rivals.

The Washington Capitals goalie held strong into overtime, too, but he couldn’t make the needed stops in the shootout as Carolina prevailed, 3-2, at PNC Arena. Andrei Svechnikov had the winner when Dylan Strome couldn’t convert Washington’s third shootout attempt, leaving the shorthanded Capitals with a frustrating defeat.

“I don’t think there was anything wrong with the effort tonight,” center Lars Eller said. “Battled hard, and we had a lot of big penalty kills to keep us in the game. Power play came through, and it just comes down to a shootout. Sometimes you are on the right side of it and sometimes you are not, but we might as well have walked out of here with two [points].”

Playing his third game in five days, Kuemper was stellar, finishing with 33 saves. Coach Peter Laviolette said he played a “spectacular game.”

“I thought he did an unbelievable job the entire game,” Laviolette said.

He’s likely to rest in favor of backup Charlie Lindgren when Washington (5-4-1) hosts the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena.

Washington was without winger T.J. Oshie and defenseman John Carlson. Both suffered lower-body injuries during a 3-0 win at Nashville on Saturday. Oshie is out indefinitely, the team said, while Carlson is day-to-day.

“When guys leave the lineup it is tough, but it is the next-man-up mentality,” Kuemper said. “The guys that have come in have done a really good job bringing energy, and the guys moving up in the lineup are doing a good job filling in as well.”

Neither team could break through in overtime. It appeared Carolina (6-2-1) would have the best chance to end it when Eller was sent to the penalty box for tripping at 2:09. But the Hurricanes, who got 18 saves from Frederik Andersen, had to wait until the shootout to prevail.

The score was tied at 2 entering the third, and it was a whistle-heavy final period of regulation. Washington had an early power-play chance but couldn’t convert. Evgeny Kuznetsov had a wide-open net from the circles, but Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin saved a goal with a gritty block. Carolina had a late man advantage of its own but couldn’t break through, either.

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Carolina scored first, only 4:27 in. On the power play, Stefan Noesen tipped in Brent Burns’s point shot for his first goal of the season. Washington had killed 13 straight penalties before Noesen’s tally.

Strome tied it at 1 just 1:23 into the second period with a rebound goal at the top of the crease. It was his second of the season.

Captain Alex Ovechkin put the Capitals up 2-1 at 8:57 of the second before Svechnikov tied it at 2 with 4:18 left in the period with his eighth goal of the young season. Ovechkin’s power-play strike from the left circle was his fifth goal of the season and his second in as many games. It gave him 785 career goals; he is one shy of tying Gordie Howe for the most in NHL history with one team. Howe scored 786 with Detroit, then added 15 more with Hartford.

Here is what else to know about the Capitals’ loss:

Oshie’s injury is a major concern. He was hurt early in Saturday’s game after he appeared to pull something while chasing the puck in the offensive zone during the Capitals’ first power play. He had to coast back to the bench as the Predators got a shorthanded chance. He then was helped down the tunnel to the dressing room, and he did not return.

Oshie, 35, stayed in Nashville on Saturday night and did not travel with the team Sunday. Laviolette said Monday that Oshie was being examined by the medical staff and that once Washington returned to D.C. the team would have a better idea of when he could return.

Carlson was injured after he appeared to fall awkwardly in the corner after trying to knock the puck away from Nashville’s Zach Sanford. There is a chance Carlson will play Tuesday, but Washington could hold him out for precautionary reasons.

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Forward Connor McMichael and defenseman Matt Irwin drew into the lineup. Irwin, who played 17 games for Washington last season, made his 2022-23 debut. He was on the third defensive pairing with Erik Gustafsson. To replace Carlson, Trevor van Riemsdyk moved up to the top pairing to skate with Dmitry Orlov, and Martin Fehervary was with Nick Jensen.

McMichael started the night as a winger on the second line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson. It was McMichael’s second game of the year. He had been passed over when injuries created other lineup openings earlier in the season.

“I think when you come to camp, you want to get into the lineup. … It had not worked out for Mikey that way to this point,” Laviolette said. “This is an unbelievable opportunity.”

Winger Joe Snively was Washington’s lone scratch. The Capitals did not recall any players from Hershey of the American Hockey League but are likely to do so before Tuesday’s game or ahead of their matchup Thursday in Detroit.

Forward Aliaksei Protas has slowly gained more confidence, which has allowed his game to grow. But despite notching two goals in his previous three games, he said he is not happy with his recent play. The 21-year-old believes he still needs to “earn the coach’s trust every shift” — and that that trust will turn into more ice time and more opportunities.

“I can’t take a shift off,” he said. “Couple games weren’t the best, so we got to keep getting better. … [I have to] work hard, play more physical. That’s my weaknesses, I believe, right now.”

Protas took a tripping penalty Monday that led to the Hurricanes’ first goal. He finished with one shot on goal in 11 minutes 37 seconds of ice time.

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