Khudobin backstops Hurricanes to 3-0 win over Capitals

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Networkgton

RALEIGH, N.C. – Goaltender Anton Khudobin recorded his first shutout of the season as the Carolina Hurricanes blanked the Washington Capitals 3-0 at PNC Arena on Friday.

Brett Bellemore, Jeff Skinner and Nathan Gerbe all scored while Khudobin stopped every shot he faced as Carolina outshot the Capitals 38-28 to win its second game in a row.

Braden Holtby went the distance in net for Washington, making 35 saves in the losing effort which extended the Capitals’ losing streak to three games.

Before the game, Hurricanes netminder Cam Ward was recognized for having played his 500th career NHL game on Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers, a game which Carolina won 4-1.

Though the spotlight focused on Ward’s accomplishment, once the puck dropped, Khudobin and the Hurricanes (23-30-7) tended to the task at hand against the Capitals (33-20-10).

“You’re proud for your partner,” Khudobin said of honoring Ward.

“At the same time, you put yourself in his spot, the way he performed. I was really happy for him. It kind of pumped me up a little bit.”

As both teams skated end-to-end, working to score the game’s first goal, it was Bellemore’s point shot at 17:21 that finally made it past Holtby.

It was his first goal of the season and one which became the eventual game winner.

He tacked onto it a fight with the Caps’ Tom Wilson late in the second period after Skinner scored his 16th goal of the season and put Carolina ahead 2-0 just past the 10-minute mark.

“I was kind of goin’ in with his linemate, I’m not sure who it was,” Bellemore said in describing how Wilson called him on to scrap with him.

“I came in with a hard hit. You know, that’s kind of my style of play. That’s my game and that’s his style of play as well – to make sure guys like me don’t hit. So he kinda’ shouted at me from behind that he was there.”

The tussle energized the crowd of 13,415 as the Hurricanes continued to play at the pace they started with.

“I thought we played good – I thought we started on time,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said.

“In the first period, we had the puck a lot off faceoffs, so we started with it. Again, similar to our last game against Philadelphia, we never trailed. In this league, when you get the lead, you extend the lead, you’re in good shape. That’s what we did tonight, and when we broke down and needed Dobey, he was there.”

With the Caps desperate to cut into its two-goal deficit, they pulled Holtby for the extra skater with 3:16 to play, and forced Khudobin to do all that he could to keep the puck out of the net.

“Guys stood tall, really tall,” Khudobin said of his teammates.

“I had to save whatever came close to me, and they played really well. They blocked a lot of shots. They shielded out a lot of players. That was the key. I was seeing the puck better. It was just a tiring two minutes that they kept coming.”

With the clock counting down, Gerbe got the puck from Andrej Nestrasil, who finished the game with two assists, and outskated Washington captain Alex Ovechkin with it near the center line before saucering a backhand shot into the empty net with 11 seconds remaining to seal the shutout win.

Notes: Another milestone was reached by defenseman John-Michael Liles who skated in his 700th career NHL game against the Capitals…Skinner’s goal was his sixth in his last eight games…The Carolina Hurricanes lead the NHL with an 88.1 percent penalty-killing percentage this season. The Hurricanes went 1-for-1 on the penalty kill against the Capitals, and have killed 61 of their last 64 penalties during a 28-game span (95.3%)…Carolina is now 13-7-3 in 2015, after posting a 7-3-2 record in January – the team’s best month in terms of points and winning percentage this season.

Boxscore: Carolina 3, Washington 0