Hurricanes capped 2-1 by Washington

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes went into the NHL’s Christmas break suffering a 2-1 loss to the league-leading Washington Capitals at PNC Arena on Monday.

After falling behind 2-0 during the first 40 minutes of play, forward Kris Versteeg scored his fifth goal of the season at 2:18 into the final period and pulled the Hurricanes (13-16-5) into position to stage a comeback.

Michael Latta and Jason Chimera each chipped in with a goal apiece during the first and second periods to give Washington (25-6-2) the two-goal advantage heading into the third.

Carolina netminder Cam Ward kept the Capitals off the board during the final 20 minutes.

Versteeg’s marker came on an impressive skill play off the bounce from the end wall kick plate after defenseman John Michael-Liles’ point shot took an angled path towards the winger.

After gaining control of the puck off the left post, Versteeg, a right-handed shot, drew it behind his body as he turned and then threaded his stick back through his legs to flip it into the open net.

While outshooting the Capitals 32-21 for the game, Carolina’s bid to beat winning goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer didn’t come to fruition.

Trailing 2-1 with 91 seconds to play, a Washington penalty for too many men on the ice yielded the Hurricanes the optimal man-advantage opportunity to tie it up.

However, exceptional shot blocking denied league-leading power play goal scorer Justin Faulk, nor his teammates, the opportunity to do so.

For the game, the Capitals ended up blocking a majority of 27 total shot attempts that didn’t make it to the net, including eight from Faulk alone.

It was a strategy that proved critical to preserving the one-goal victory for Caps, their second of the season over the Hurricanes.

Currently 5-4-1 in December, Carolina returns to the ice at PNC to host the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.

Notes: Earlier in the day, Carolina recalled defenseman Michal Jordan from Charlotte. Jordan was a healthy scratch against Washington…The Capitals have held Carolina to a goal in each of the two teams’ games this season, winning 4-1 previously…In addition to Faulk, who finished with four shots on goal and eight attempted/blocked shots, Versteeg had four and two of his own, Jordan Staal had two and four, while forward Elias Lindholm put a team-high five shots on net without a goal to show for it.

Boxscore: Washington 2, Carolina 1