By Peter Koutroumpis
TORONTO, ONTARIO – After 141 days since playing their last game, the Carolina Hurricanes continued their quest to win the Stanley Cup.
Playing in the NHL’s Eastern hub city at Scotiabank Arena, the Hurricanes skated to a 3-2 exhibition loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday.
Vincent Trocheck and Teuvo Teravainen each tallied goals while starter Petr Mrazek (13 saves on 16 shots) and James Reimer (9 saves on 9 shots) split duties in net.
The Capitals earned the win with 27 stops by goaltenders Braden Holtby (12 saves on 13 shots) and Vitek Vanecek (13 saves on 14 shots), and fueled by Alex Ovechkin’s two goals along with a single from Evgeny Kuznetsov.
After arriving in the Toronto ‘bubble’ earlier in the week and getting acclimated to new surroundings on and off the ice, the Hurricanes’ late afternoon matchup with the Capitals was an exercise in ‘knocking the rust off’, according to head coach Rod Brind’Amour.
“I didn’t like too much, to be honest with you,” Brind’Amour said about his overall impression of his team’s performance.
“I thought the third period was a little better. We started, I felt like, getting to more of what our game should look like. I expect it to be rusty and we saw that (during) the first two periods. That concerns me a little, but I like the fact that it looked like in the third we got our legs.”
Trocheck’s marker was his second in a Hurricanes jersey since his regular season overtime goal against the Islanders back on Mar. 7.
Teravainen scored on the power play early in the third period, and pulled Carolina to within a goal, trailing 3-2 at the 2:42 mark.
Overall, the Hurricanes converted 1-5 with the man-advantage.
Carolina finished 4-5 on the penalty kill with Ovechkin opening the game’s scoring near the midpoint of the opening period.
After Trocheck evened the score 1-1 at 8:57 in the second, the Caps scored twice during the next 20-plus minutes – 10:34 of the second (Kuznetsov) and 12:25 of the third (Ovechkin).
While Reimer kept Washington off the score sheet during the third, Ovechkin’s second goal of the game, the eventual game-winner was enough to earn the win despite Carolina’s final power play push to tie the game for the final 27 seconds.
“It’s been a while since we’ve been playing hockey, so to be able to get a goal, kind of feel the rhythm of the game, the puck on your stick a little bit, it’s obviously going to help a little bit confidence-wise,” Trocheck said.
“Realistically, all we wanted to get out of this game was to get the rust off, realize how we want to play hockey, realize what our identity was. I think toward the end of the game we started to realize that.”
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport