Washington-Carolina: Leighton, Late Goals Lift Canes Past Caps

Dave Nichols@@DaveNicholsDSPSenior Analyst IDecember 8, 2008

A less-than-inspired Washington Capitals team, playing twice in less than 24 hours on the road, fell 3-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes on a pair of even-strength late third period goals by the hosts.
Washington (15-10-3-33, first place in Southeast) out shot Carolina (13-12-3-29, second place in Southeast) 39-25, but Hurricanes goalie Michael Leighton was up to the task. with 1.2 seconds remaining in the second period, he stoned Alex Ovechkin on a penalty shot, providing plenty of momentum heading into the intermission. Ovechkin is now 0-for-5 lifetime in penalty shots.
The only shot Leighton allowed to get past him was a rifle one-timer by Niklas Backstrom on a power play at 8:28 of the third period. The game tying goal was Backstrom's eighth of the season. The tie would be short-lived.
Seven minutes after Backstrom's goal, Hurricane center Eric Staal broke the deadlock as he dug the puck out from behind the Caps net and stuck it short side to beat a slow Jose Theodore. Theodore did not look particularly sharp all night and allowed the clincher with a little over two minutes to play as Ray Whitney netted his second of the game.
The Caps missed a chance to open an eight-point lead in the division and left the Tar Heel state clinging to a four-point advantage in early December. Coach Bruce Boudreau stated after the game that he's frustrated by the lack of intensity on a consistent basis.
Washington is off until Wednesday when they host the Boston Bruins at 7:00 p.m. from the Verizon Center.
SCORESHEET:
WAS: Backstrom (8) from Ovechkin and Theodore (3-8:28)
CAR: Whitney (8) from Pitkanen and Brind'Amour (1-13:18); Staal (9) from Samsonov (3-15:51); Whitney (9) from Eaves and Conboy (17:58)
THREE STARS:
1. E. Staal - CAR (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
2. R. Whitney - CAR (Goals: 2, Assists: 0)
3. M. Leighton - CAR (Saves: 38, Save Pct: .974)