While the Capitals fired 38 shots at Hurricanes starting goaltender Anton Khudobin, Carolina could only manage 21 shots on Washington’s Braden Holtby – seven of which came at even strength.
“We didn’t compete,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.
“Anytime you don’t compete, you don’t give yourself a chance.”
The power play generated the Hurricanes’ offense as Jiri Tlusty and John-Michael Liles converted on two chances of the nine afforded by an aggressively checking Capitals squad.
More concerning to Carolina was the loss of Jeff Skinner, the team’s leading goal scorer from last season.
Skinner left the game just 12 seconds into it, after taking an open-ice hit to the head from Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen.
While trying to play the puck, Skinner turned into the Caps defenseman who led with his shoulder and arm on the check.
The Carolina forward fell to the ice immediately after impact.
He got up, but was visibly shaken and showed trouble in trying to pick his stick up.
He eventually skated off the ice with help but his quick departure wasn’t easily overcome by his teammates and coach.
“It’s obviously a concern,” Peters said.
“You never want to see anyone get hurt. You never want to see anybody struggling with head injuries.”
Washington continued to use its physicality and speed early on to overwhelm Carolina, and it paid off as the Capitals scored two goals 34 seconds apart – leading 2-0 at the 5:54 mark of the opening period.
Though the Hurricanes drew a fair share of penalties due to the Capitals at-times overzealous physical play, they couldn’t take further advantage of the ample power play opportunities they had throughout the game.
Following Tlusty’s goal early in the second period, the Capitals scored on a shorthanded opportunity that capped off a productive frame that extended their lead to 5-1.
Liles scored at 2:08 into the final period to narrow the score at 5-2, but Carolina was unable to generate any more of a comeback attempt than that.
“We gotta’ take a step back here,” Peters said.
“Tomorrow’s a scheduled day off. It will probably stay that way. To a man, I think they understand that wasn’t good enough, not even close. It’s unacceptable.”