In their preseason opener at Verizon Center on Monday night, the Washington Capitals got off to a sluggish start. Hosting the Carolina Hurricanes, the Caps displayed some lethargy in the first 20 minutes, and they spent a great deal of the first in their own end of the ice. But Washington rebounded for a 2-0 win on the strength of third-period goals from Tom Wilson and Derek Roy.
“I thought the first period we weren’t engaged; we were just standing around and that showed,” says Caps coach Barry Trotz. “Second period, I think you saw what we are more about.”
Carolina owned an 11-4 shots on goal advantage and a 21-10 bulge in shot attempts in the first period. Sparked by a power play early in the second period, the Capitals turned the tables on the Canes in the middle stanza. Washington outshot the Canes 18-6 and out-attempted Carolina by 31-10 in the second, and only some good netminding from the Hurricanes’ Eddie Lack kept the game scoreless.
Both teams had a chance to get on the board late in the second. Carolina got their first power play of the night whenConnor Carrick was sent off for hooking at 15:22 of the second. Carolina’s Jordan Staal got a deflected shot on net, and Caps goalie Dan Ellis made the stop with his right pad, but he then had to sweep the rebound away from the goal line with his stick.
Seconds later, Caps winger Jason Chimera chipped a puck past Ryan Murphy at the left point and was able to beat the Carolina defender to the loose puck. Chimera skated in on a breakaway, but was unable to solve Lack.
In the third, the Caps jumped out in front.
Brooks Laich fed the puck from the goal line to Caps defenseman Christian Djoos, who had crept up from the left point. Djoos put the puck on a tee for Tom Wilson in the high slot, and Wilson whipped a wrist shot past Carolina goaltender Drew MacIntyre, who came on in relief of Lack at the start of the final frame.
“It was a heck of a play by Djoos there,” says Wilson. “We kind of switched our system to allow the forward to be high, and I was right in the middle and he had a good look at the net and found me off to the side. I had a good shot and got lucky with it. Just a really good look by Djoos there.”
Wilson’s goal came at 3:31. Just under 10 minutes later, the Caps doubled their lead when Derek Roy snuck a shot through MacIntyre to make it a 2-0 game. Roy, in camp on a professional tryout basis, was one of several players to draw praise from Trotz after the game.
“Some guys did a real good job tonight,” says Trotz. “Obviously Derek Roy, fighting for a job. I was real impressed withDmitry Orlov coming back [from injury]. I thought [goaltender Braden] Holtby looked really good for us early, and so didDan Ellis late. He just didn’t have as many chances against.
“I thought our veteran defensemen – [Karl] Alzner and [Matt] Niskanen – played very well. I was really happy with young Djoos. He’s got lots of poise. He’s not the biggest guy; we’re trying to get him a little bit bigger and stronger. But he’s got lots of game. [Aaron] Ness I thought was really solid.
“I’m probably missing a couple of guys that played pretty well, but I didn’t like our first period. I told the guys I didn’t like the first period. And then we got playing. That could be a little bit of our training camp. We didn’t do much for scrimmages.”
Notes: Ellis started the game because Holtby had an equipment issue, but the latter replaced the former just 36 seconds into the game. Ellis took over in the crease with 7:11 remaining in the second and went the rest of the way. He finished with a dozen saves while Holtby was credited with 14 … The two teams played 57 seconds worth fo “free” three-on-three hockey at the conclusion of the contest. It was only 57 seconds because it was at that juncture that the Canes scored on a tic-tac-toe tally following a three-on-one rush that came about because Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov missed the net high and wide on a Capitals two-on-one just before that … The Caps will be back in action on Tuesday night when they travel to Boston to face the Bruins. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. Washington and Boston will also play as many as five minutes of three-on-three hockey on Tuesday, regardless of the final score of the game.