NHL Game Summary - Carolina at Washington
(Wednesday, February 25th)
Final Score: Carolina 2, Washington 1
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Jeff O'Neill's second-period goal proved to be the difference as the Carolina Hurricanes skated past the Washington Capitals, 2-1, at the MCI Center.
Recent call-up Arturs Irbe, playing in his first NHL game since April 6, 2003, made 18 saves to backstop the win. Irbe was demoted to the minors last season after posting a dismal 7-24-2 record to start the year.
"It was a slow game for him [Irbe], but he made the saves when we needed him and there was nothing he could have done on the goal scored," said Carolina head coach Peter Laviolette.
Erik Cole scored the other goal for the Hurricanes, winners of back-to-back contests. Carolina has also earned a point in five consecutive games (3-0-1-1) and won for the first time in seven visits to the nation's capital (1-5-1).
Robert Lang tallied the lone marker for Washington, which lost for the first time in six chances to Carolina this year (4-1-1). Lang also extended his point-scoring streak to 13 games (6g, 10a). He now has six goals and five assists in the six matchups against the Canes this season.
Sebastien Charpentier, who hadn't played since October 23, stopped 31 shots as the Capitals saw their winless streak extended to three games (0-2-1).
"Charpy [Charpentier] is a player that I let the other guys know means a lot to me and he deserves better," said Caps head coach Glen Hanlon. "I know how much he wants to play, how much he's endured and he deserved two points tonight."
Cole opened the scoring with his 13th goal of the season with only 1:08 to go in the first period. Cole, standing in front of the net, blocked the initial backhand attempt by Rod Brind'Amour off his leg, then turned around and put the puck through the legs of Charpentier for the tally, his third in three games.
Carolina doubled its margin on a two-man advantage just prior to the midway point of the second stanza. O'Neill, who rang one off the crossbar a minute earlier, found the back of the net on a one-timer from the bottom of the left circle off a feed from Sean Hill.
Lang's 29th marker of the year got the Caps on the board with 37 seconds left in the second, thanks to some hard work by Jeff Halpern. After a point shot by Sergei Gonchar, Halpern fought off a check in front to get to the rebound and slid the puck across the goal mouth. Anson Carter shanked a shot at a wide open net, but Lang was there for the finish.
The Caps managed nine shots in the final period, but could not get one by Irbe to even the score. Their best chance came with around six minutes remaining when Lang got behind the Canes' defense, but his backhand attempt slid off his stick as Irbe aggressively came out to force the issue.
"We hung on -- it's just the way it goes -- you bang a couple off the post and you get a goalie that hasn't played in a while and he stops 30 some-odd shots," added Laviolette. "We played a pretty good game but we didn't put them away when we wanted to, and we let them hang around."
Any other chances for a Washington comeback were stymied when defenseman Brendan Witt was whistled for kneeing with only 1:53 left on the clock. The penalty topped off an undisciplined night for the Caps, who were assessed 10 minors on the night.
"We at least worked hard in the third, but we ended up in the box too much tonight which hurt us," said Caps forward Mike Grier.
Lang, the league's leading scorer with 74 points, now owns the two longest scoring streaks of the season. He notched a point in 16 consecutive games from October 31-December 2...Irbe, who played in his 300th contest for Carolina, earned his first win since January 23, 2003 against Florida...O'Neill registered his 196th goal in franchise history, tying him for fourth all-time with Geoff Sanderson.
02/26 00:17:29 ET