Capitals, Holtby hold Hurricanes scoreless in 5-0 win

Carolina shut out for the second time in five games.

Geoff Burke—USA TODAY Sports
Capitals goalie Braden Holtby makes a save on Hurricanes right wing Lee Stempniak during Washington's 5-0 on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Washington Capitals continue to put up big numbers on offense. They are playing pretty well in the defensive zone as well.Braden Holtby picked up his seventh shutout of the season, five different players scored and the league-leading Capitals defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 5-0 on Tuesday night for their 10th straight home win.Holtby, 12-0-0 in his last 14 games with four shutouts, stopped 23 shots in picking up his 30th career shutout. It was Washington’s second straight whitewash as backup goalie Philipp Grubauer beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-0 on Sunday. The Capitals have 10 shutouts in 54 games.”Our goalies, all year, have been unbelievable for us,” Washington’s Marcus Johansson said. “[They] have given us a chance night in and night out and that’s a pretty good feeling to have.”Johansson, Alex Ovechkin and Brett Connolly each had a goal and an assist, with Ovechkin netting his 26th goal. Lars Eller and Evgeny Kuznetsov also had goals, and Matt Niskanen added two assists.”We’ve got a lot of confidence right now, obviously,” Niskanen said. “We’ve got some good depth. Up and down the lineup guys can hurt you.”Washington (37-11-6) has won four straight overall and picked up at least one point in 19 of their last 21 games. Carolina (24-21-7) had won three straight.The Capitals have scored five or more goals in nine straight home games, becoming first team to do so since the Calgary Flames accomplished it from March 3-April 1, 1990.Washington converted two of three power-play opportunities against the NHL’s best penalty kill, while Carolina went 0-for-3.”That’s a big difference in the game,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said. “If you’re going to stay with them, you’ve got to keep up. If you lose the specialty teams battle in this building, you’re probably going to lose the game.”Goaltender Eddie Lack, who was activated from injured reserve this past weekend, made his first start since early November and stopped 23 shots.Carolina had the better chances early in the first period, but the momentum shifted when Ron Hainsey was called for tripping at 8:58.Ovechkin made it 1-0 1:25 later when he blasted a shot from his usual spot in the left circle.”I think the first 10 minutes was a snooze fest. That was boring, not a lot going on,” Niskanen said. “Then we started playing just a little bit quicker. I think we executed a little bit better. Dmitry Orlov draws a penalty and we score, and we’re kind of off and running.”Connolly made it 2-0 with 6:13 left in the period when he faked a shot from high in the slot, skated to his right and fired a high wrister past Lack from the right circle.The Capitals have outscored opponents 58-23 in the first period this season, and Washington is 31-4-4 when scoring first.Carolina’s Sebastian Aho had the best chance in a scoreless second 20 minutes, but his breakaway attempt was stopped by Holtby.The Hurricanes had a power play just 1:55 into the third period and a chance to halve the deficit.”We knew there was going to have to be something that turned the momentum in our favor, and that was it … while it was still anyone’s game,” Holtby said. “They score there it’s completely different. Big moments like that, guys are looking forward to it and succeeding it them right now.”Eller then made it 3-0 at 6:10 of the third period when he got a pass from Connolly as he entered the zone and fired a shot from the top of the left circle for his 10th goal of the season.It was 4-0 just 27 seconds later as Kuznetsov scored from the slot. It was his 12th of the season and seventh in his last 10 games.Johansson closed out the scoring with his 17th goal of the season with 5:48 remaining.”They have so many skilled players,” Lack said. “They have four really, really good lines. It’s tough to match up against them.”NOTES: Washington C Nicklas Backstrom picked up an assist and has earned 24 points in his last 17 games (six goals, 18 assists). Washington is in the midst of playing seven games in 12 days leading up to their bye week. … D Taylor Chorney was scratched for Washington. … G Cam Ward had started 26 of Carolina’s past 27 games. … LW Jeff Skinner did not practice Monday but was in the Hurricanes’ lineup. Carolina scratches included RW Ty Rattie, D Matt Tennyson and D Ryan Murphy. … The Hurricanes’ longest winning streak of the season was five games from Nov. 12 to Nov. 22.