By Adam Vingan
The Washington Capitals entered Friday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes on the heels of controversy. Rumors had been swirling since head coach Bruce Boudreau benched Alex Ovechkin at the end of regulation in Tuesday’s 5-4 overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks. Yet, in Hurricanes Country, the winds of change hardly blew as the Caps continued their recent domination of the Hurricanes (7-0-1 in their last eight against Carolina overall, 6-2-2 in Raleigh since 2008-09) in a 5-1 win. The Hurricanes’ name Friday was only fitting because they really looked like natural disasters.
Yes, there were three hurricane-related puns within the first paragraph.
Anyways, it was truly a night of firsts at RBC Center Friday. Three players scored their respective first goals of the season. Jeff Halpern, fresh off his first scratch of the season, scored his first goal of the season and his first goal as a Cap since April 7, 2006, which happened to also come against the Hurricanes. John Carlson became the fifth different defenseman to score this season when his first goal of the season, a third period power play goal, gave the Caps a 3-1 lead. Most importantly, Cody Eakin had his first NHL point on the secondary assist of Troy Brouwer’s goal, his first NHL goal in the third period, giving him his first multi-point performance. Eakin also earned the first star of the game and his first shaving cream pie after the game.
Now that Halpern and Carlson have scored, only Matt Hendricks, Jeff Schultz, John Erskine, Jay Beagle and D.J. King have yet to score for Washington this season. The all-around production has been discussed and dissected all season long, but the proof keeps getting strong with every performance.
Meanwhile, Michal Neuvirth’s first start since October 8 went smoothly. He stopped 24 of 25 stops for his second win of the season, both of which have come against the Hurricanes.
The Caps will now play the back end of the season’s first back-to-back against the New York Islanders Saturday. Perhaps tomorrow will be a night of seconds.