Hunter’s debut a flop; Capitals continue tumble
If Dale Hunter needs a role model as a new coach trying to make the Capitals play better defense and with more confidence, all he has to do is study Ken Hitchcock and the St. Louis Blues.
Hunter’s NHL coaching debut was spoiled last night by the stingiest defense in the league. Hitchcock’s Blues were a shutdown machine once again, limiting Alex Ovechkin to one shot on goal in a 2-1 victory in Washington.
“We didn’t give up anything in two periods,’’ said Hitchcock, who is 8-1-2 since taking over from Davis Payne Nov. 7. “We’re starting to dial in the way we need to play to win hockey games. When you play this well, it’s a good feeling.’’
Jaroslav Halak made 18 saves for the Blues, who have surrendered 13 goals in Hitchcock’s 11 games.
The Capitals have lost three straight and seven of nine.
Rangers 4, Penguins 3 - John Mitchell and Brad Richards scored 90 seconds apart in host New York’s four-goal second period, and held on for its third consecutive win.
Ryan Callahan and Marian Gaborik both had a goal and assist in the period, and Richards added two assists as New York won its seventh straight at home and 10th in 12 games overall.
Canucks 4, Blue Jackets 1 - Cory Schneider stopped 47 shots for his fifth straight victory as host Vancouver won its fifth straight.
Schneider, filling in spectacularly for the injured Roberto Luongo, has given up just four goals in his winning streak, including two shutouts.
Senators 6, Jets 4 - Zack Smith and Milan Michalek scored two goals each to lead visiting Ottawa over Winnipeg.
Smith broke a 4-all tie with his second score of the night on a power play with 6:15 left.
Panthers 3, Hurricanes 1 - Shawn Matthias scored with 3:19 left to help Florida win in Raleigh, N.C., and spoil Kirk Muller’s debut as Carolina’s coach.
Islanders 2, Sabres 1 - Brian Rolston scored the go-ahead goal 9:23 into the third period and Al Montoya stopped 30 shots to give New York its second straight road win by beating Buffalo.
Coyotes 4, Blackhawks 1 - Mike Smith made 24 saves, Ray Whitney had a goal and two assists, and Phoenix won in Chicago. Daymond Langkow, Shane Doan, and Radim Vrbata also scored for the Coyotes.
Flames 1, Predators 0 - Defenseman Derek Smith scored his first NHL goal with 1:10 left in the first period, and Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 26 shots for his first shutout of the season as host Calgary beat Nashville.