After my last scouting report on Colin Fraser I asked our readers who they were most interested in hearing about. To my surprise, readers were most interested in learning about likely Oklahoma City Baron Alexandre Giroux. But maybe it shouldn't have been so surprising. Giroux has 139 goals in his last 181 AHL games, and that, my friends, is a lot of goals! The question, it seems to me, is why this great AHL goal-scorer can't get a sustained shot in the NHL? Now, I'm not going to be able to answer that question by watching one game, but hopefully watching a game (or two? vote below!) can give us some hints about the strengths and weaknesses in Giroux's game.
So what are some of the weaknesses keeping this AHL 50-goal man out of the show? In watching this game, I'd bet on two. First, Alexandre Giroux is pretty darn slow, and when he's playing with and against players like Ovechkin, Backstrom, Samsonov, and Cole, it's really noticeable. He just isn't able to get where he needs to be in time. There were even a couple of times where he was in a position to shoot, but took too long to get it off, and had the puck knocked away. The other thing is that he's weak positionally. He chases the play; he loses position in DZ coverage; he doesn't often pick up a man on the backcheck; his movement in every zone sometimes seems without clear purpose. There's also the little "selfish" plays like going to the bench with the puck moving the wrong way (Ovechkin does that too, but it's a different kettle of fish when you're not one of the best offensive players in the game), and sitting high in the zone hoping for an offensive rush. Now, some of these observations might have to do with the fact that he was playing both right wing and left wing in this game. That's definitely the kind of thing that could cause a player to look more confused than usual. Still, those are significant weaknesses.
On the other side of the ledger, I can see why he's scored a lot of goals in the AHL. With the game moving less quickly, his weaknesses wouldn't be as apparent, and even in this game, you could see that he knows where to go to score. He's constantly going to the net with his stick ready for a pass, a rebound, or a loose puck, and he's very willing to shoot. He may not always know where to go when his team doesn't have clear control of the puck in the OZ, but when they do, he's usually trying to put himself in a position to score. In the end, I'd bet that he could score some goals if given a consistent shot at the NHL level, but the rest of his game didn't look all that strong. He's already 29 years old, so if the kids are ready, he doesn't have a shot at making the Oilers' top nine. He's not a physical player at all, so there's pretty much no chance of him winning a spot on the fourth line given the stated objective there. Judging by what management's said about the kids this summer (i.e. they might play even if they don't look ready), I'd be very surprised to see Giroux make the Oilers out of camp.
Shift by Shift
19:13 to 18:49 of 1st period, 0-0 tie, 5v5 - Giroux comes out with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom (that's a nice gig). The Hurricanes are in control of the puck, and are breaking into Washington's zone 2-on-2. Tuomo Ruutu takes a shot, but it's blocked by John Erskine. Ovechkin picks up the loose puck and he heads up-ice with Giroux on a 2-on-2 of their own. They get into the OZ with ease, and the two forwards criss-cross, with Giroux heading to the net and Ovechkin shooting from just above the near-side FO dot. Michael Leighton makes the save and leaves the rebound for his defender, away from Giroux. Sergei Samsonov gets a pass on the near boards and skates the puck out of the zone. Giroux leaves his post in front of the net and catches up to Samsonov, just before he releases a pass. Giroux tries unsuccessfully to disrupt the pass with his stick, and decides not to follow through with a hit. Samsonov's pass was intended for Eric Staal, but Staal doesn't receive it cleanly. He could reach for it, but he sees Backstrom coming across the ice, and decides that he'd rather not have his brains scrambled, so the puck floats back to Mike Green at the Capitals' blue-line. Green tries to move the puck to Ovechkin at the Hurricanes' blue-line but his loft pass is knocked down by Erik Cole. Giroux swoops in, picks up the loose puck, and then promptly gives it away coming into the OZ. Tim Gleason takes the gift, and flips the puck into the Hurricanes' bench, stopping play.
18:49 to 18:08 of 1st period, 0-0 tie, 5v5 - The trio of Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Giroux stay out for the OZ FO, and the Hurricanes counter with Staal, Samsonov, and Cole. Giroux sets up on the inside hash-marks, and Backstrom wins the draw cleanly to Jeff Schultz at the point. Schultz shoots the puck into the near corner for Giroux, who loses a race to Gleason. He tries to get his stick in to disrupt the pass, but Gleason gets the puck up the boards to Samsonov, who moves it to Staal, and the Hurricanes are into the NZ. Staal crosses the red-line and dumps the puck in deep. Giroux is just off the near-boards as the two teams battle for the puck below the goal-line. Backstrom ends up with the puck and flips it to Giroux. Tim Gleason and Joe Corvo decide to give up the line, so Giroux skates it out and then attempts a pass cross-ice to Ovechkin who's breaking toward the Hurricanes' blue-line. The pass is a long one, and it's easily intercepted by Corvo, who moves the puck to Samsonov in the NZ. Samsonov then tries to hit Cole moving into the Capitals' zone, but the pass bounces off Backstrom's skate, and goes to the near-side boards in the NZ. Giroux is the first man there, and he bounces the puck forward. Giroux follows the puck, but Samsonov cuts in front of him and takes it away. He turns and passes it to Staal at the Capitals' blue-line, but the pass is a bit too far, and the puck goes down into the far corner. Staal chases while his linemates all change. With little presence on the forecheck the Capitals control easily. Mike Green bounces the puck off the wall to Backstrom who slides it into the Hurricanes' zone, and the forwards all change.
15:25 to 15:12 of 1st period, 1-0 Hurricanes, 5v5 - The line of Backstrom, Ovechkin, and Giroux come out for the NZ FO after Carolina's PP goal. The Hurricanes respond with Rod Brind'Amour, Tom Kostopoulos, and Stephane Yelle. Uh oh. The shift starts well for the Hurricanes as Brind'Amour wins the FO back to Joe Corvo. The Capitals move into a 1-2-2 with Backstrom providing the forecheck. Corvo skates around Backstrom and all of the Capitals just stay to the outside, which allows Corvo to skate right through the middle into the Capitals' zone, and take a wrist shot from just inside the blue-line. Jose Theodore makes the save and freezes the puck. That's probably not how Boudreau drew it up.
15:12 to 14:51 of 1st period, 1-0 Hurricanes, 5v5 - No changes by either team for the DZ draw. Brind'Amour wins it again, but the puck slides between the two defensemen and out of the zone. Giroux comes forward to provide a one-man forecheck in the NZ. The Hurricanes move the puck through the NZ and dump it cross-ice into the near corner. Giroux gets position on Yelle, and just gets in his way, making sure that he doens't have access to the loose puck, which is moving up the near boards. Backstrom picks up the puck and makes a cross-ice pass back to Karl Alzner who has Giroux and Ovechkin now skating in front of him, as well as a bunch of open ice. Alzner decides to skate the puck forward along the far boards until he gets challenged by Joe Corvo. At that point he chips the puck forward for Ovechkin, but Gleason comes across the ice, and gets to the puck first. Gleason chips it out, and play is stopped because Corvo is injured. It turns out that the back of Corvo's leg was cut by Alzner's skate when the two players collided. Corvo ended up being out for two months, but got his revenge by taking Alzner's spot after being traded to the Capitals in March.
14:06 to 13:49 of 1st period, 1-0 Hurricanes, 5v5 - Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Giroux hop over the boards on a staggered change with the puck deep in Carolina's zone. Ovechkin is first onto the ice and is in quickly on the forecheck. He delivers a hit to Aaron Ward in the near corner, but not before Ward is able to get the puck up the boards to Rod Brind'Amour (Brind'Amour's forward group has been out there for over a minute). Brind'Amour moves the puck up to Yelle, who skates into the NZ, before being challenged by Backstrom. Yelle tries to dump the puck in deep, but that's blocked by Brian Pothier who quickly moves the puck up to Giroux skating into the OZ; both Brind'Amour and Yelle are still stuck on the ice. Giroux comes into the zone, and he tries to use Ward as a screen for a shot, but Ward blocks the shot with his stick. Giroux then collects the loose puck against the near boards, and drops it down for Backstrom, who drops it in turn for Ovechkin in the near corner. Backstrom and Giroux both head to the front of the net as Ovechkin dangles in the corner. Ovechkin uses a quick stop to get Joni Pitkanen to over-pursue, which opens up a passing lane. Ovechkin puts it in front, and Backstrom taps it in. GOAL!
11:23 to 10:36 of 1st period, 1-1 tie, 5v5 - Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Giroux come out with the puck in Carolina's zone, but there's no forecheck on. All three forwards hang back in the NZ, which allows Carolina to move out, but also clogs the NZ something fierce. Joni Pitkanen hits Eric Staal with a pass in the NZ, but he runs into Backstrom, and then Ovechkin, losing the puck to Mike Green in the process. The Capitals take control in their own zone. Pitkanen went off after dishing the puck, so both teams have all fresh legs on the ice. Green gives the puck to Jeff Schultz on the far side of the ice, who immediately moves the puck up to Ovechkin in the NZ. Ovechkin beats Nic Wallin to the inside as he crosses the line, and both Giroux and Backstrom have position breaking toward the net. Ovechkin decides to shoot, but it's blocked by Ward, and the puck bounces to the far boards, eventually coming to Schultz at the point who dumps the puck around the boards. Ovechkin and Ward have fallen down in the crease following Ovechkin's shot, and Backstrom is skating into the near corner to collect the puck which is rimming around; Giroux is coasting through the high slot. After Backstrom picks up the puck, he moves up the boards and Giroux goes down into the corner in case Backstrom wants to cycle the puck down. Instead, Backstrom passes the puck to Green at the point, who fans on the one-timer. Erik Cole takes the loose puck and passes it to Samsonov in the NZ as Schultz and Green back off. It's now a 3-on-3 coming through the NZ (Backstrom is the forward who's back), but Samsonov decides to just flip the puck high into Washington's zone. Green goes back to get the puck, and he moves it to Backstrom before being hit hard by Cole. Backstrom then moves the puck quickly for Ovechkin who's still standing at the Hurricane's blue-line. Ovechkin receives the pass off his skate, but he's held up by Gleason, and the puck slides down to Leighton (Giroux came back to the DZ, so he was skating through the NZ to catch up to the play during this sequence). Leighton bounces the puck off the boards for Wallin in the near corner, but he's forced to move the puck quickly before taking a hit from Giroux. Despite the hit, Wallin's pass below the goal-line connects with Gleason in the far corner. Gleason calmly moves the puck up to Cole who skates into the NZ and dumps the puck in softly after crossing the red-line. Ovechkin and Giroux both change as the puck goes into Washington's zone and the Hurricanes press on the forecheck.
8:06 to 7:55 of 1st period, 1-1 tie, 5v5 - Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Giroux get on the ice with the Capitals in control of the puck in their own zone. Backstrom is the first man out, and is actually carrying the puck through the NZ while his linemates get on. Backstrom carries the puck through the NZ, and into the OZ before taking a hit from Andrew Alberts, at which point the puck slides into the near corner. Eric Staal goes back to pick up the puck in the corner, and he skates around the net. Giroux comes down to pressure him, so Staal moves the puck to Gleason on the far boards. As Gleason skates up the boards, Ovechkin comes down to challenge him. Gleason tries to step around him, but Ovechkin nails him with his knee. Whoops. Both guys are down, and it looks like the Hurricanes are going to be playing with four defensemen for the rest of this game. They're not - it turns out that Gleason is okay, but Ovechkin still gets five and a game from the referee, and a two-game suspension from the league. I'm pretty sure that was his first suspension, and good on the league for doing it.
2:51 to 2:40 of 1st period, 1-1 tie, 5v5 - The Hurricanes couldn't score on the PP, and Giroux heads out with Backstrom and Eric Fehr for the first shift after it's over. Giroux had been playing right wing, but he's on the left side now. Those three line up for a NZ FO against Brind'Amour, Yelle, and Kostopoulos. Brind'Amour wins the draw back to Wallin, who goes across to Pitkanen. Giroux marks Kostopoulos closely on the far side of the ice as Pitkanen skates the puck into the zone on the near side. Fehr stretches out and knocks the puck off Pitkanen's stick, and out of the zone. Backstrom picks it up, and they head in on a 2-on-1. Fehr hustles to the far side of the ice, and Backstrom cuts in toward the middle as he enters the zone. He's got a great shooting angle, but nonetheless decides to pass, and Wallin is unable to break it up (neither Hurricane defender looked very good on this play). Fehr nails the one-timer past Leighton and the Capitals are up 2-1. GOAL!
0:20 to 0:00 of 1st period, 2-1 Capitals, 5v5 - Giroux comes out with Backstrom and Tomas Fleischmann as Aaron Ward picks up the puck in Carolina's zone. The Capitals don't get into position quickly and it's an easy break-out for the Hurricanes, who get the puck through the NZ and deep into Washington's end. Kostopoulos and Brind'Amour are in on the forecheck behind the net. The Capitals have two guys behind the net, and have formed a triangle around the crease, with one guy on each post and another in the high slot. Giroux is the man in the high slot. John Erskine falls on the puck behind the net, and the clock runs to zero.
19:44 to 19:07 of 2nd period, 2-1 Capitals, 5v5 - Giroux is back on RW to start the second period. He comes out for a DZ draw on the far side of the ice with Backstrom and Tomas Fleischmann, but both Giroux and Fleischmann are lined up on the left-hand side of the circle, in front of the net. The Hurricanes counter with Eric Staal, Ray Whitney, and Erik Cole. Staal wins the draw back, but the puck doesn't get far. All four wingers move toward the loose puck, but Whitney is there first, and he gets the puck back to the point. Cole is in Giroux's way, and he prevents Giroux from getting in the shooting lane, allowing Pitkanen to fire a wrist-shot toward the net. The shot is tipped in front; after Theodore makes the save, Backstrom picks up the rebound, and skates toward the far boards. He eventually passes the puck to Fleischmann who's breaking into the NZ. Fleischmann and Giroux are coming in 2-on-2, and Fleischmann passes the puck to Giroux as they cross into the OZ. After gaining the line, Giroux stops, and Fleischmann goes to the net. Giroux puts a hard pass toward Flesichmann as he's skating toward the net, intending for him to tip the puck, but the pass misses him and comes around the net. This allows the Hurricanes to get control and break out. The Hurricanes only have two men rushing forward into Washington's zone, and the Capitals have four men back. Giroux decides to come all the way across the ice to challenge Cole. Cole passes the puck to Whitney who dumps the puck in on goal. Theodore moves the puck to the far corner, but a hard forecheck from Whitney and Staal results in a wrap-around shot from Staal. Giroux has come back into the slot, and after the puck hits Theodore, the rebound bounces off of Giroux's skate to Backstrom. Giroux and Fleischmann break up-ice to give Backstrom a couple of targets, and he passes the puck to Giroux. Giroux is just able to tip the pass forward for himself as he skates forward, but Tim Gleason pokes the puck, and it floats high in the air behind them. Giroux turns and bats the puck out of the air high over his head and into the OZ. Backstrom picks up the puck, skates over to the near boards and takes a shot from a poor angle with no one in front. Leighton holds on and the whistle is blown.
16:25 to 15:54 of 2nd period, 2-1 Capitals, 5v5 - Giroux comes out for another DZ FO, this time on the near side. He's back out with Backstrom, but Brooks Laich has replaced Fleischmann on LW. The Hurricanes counter with Staal, Whitney, and Cole. Backstrom wins the draw this time, and the Capitals try to move the puck out of the zone up the near side, but to no avail. The puck comes back down to John Erskine below the goal-line who skates behind the net before reversing the puck to Backstrom in the near corner. Backstrom is shadowed by Staal and they battle for the puck behind the goal-line, carrying it around to the far side. Backstrom is able to work the puck up the boards, where Giroux is waiting for it. Giroux makes a good pass to Laich who's cutting through the middle with speed, and the puck is out. Laich tries to dump the puck in, but that attempt is blocked by Pitkanen. Laich had assumed the puck was going to go by, so he's trying to skate by Pitkanen, and ends up getting his stick in Pitkanen's face, and there's now a delayed penalty. Whitney picks up the loose puck in the NZ and bounces it off the far boards past Giroux to Staal at the Capitals' line. Staal works the puck in, and leaves it for Cole along the far boards. Giroux has come back to cover his point, which takes away one of Cole's options. Cole instead tries to play it into the corner, but Brian Pothier intercepts the pass and play is stopped.
10:57 to 10:01 of 2nd period, 2-1 Capitals, 5v4 - Giroux is out for a NZ FO with Washington's second power play unit. The Capitals have Giroux, Eric Fehr, and Mathieu Perreault up front, as well as Brendan Morrison and Mike Green on the points (Green played the entire PP). The FO is an odd one in that both centers try to win the puck forward. Brind'Amour wins it, but the puck goes straight to Mike Green, so he may have been better off losing it. Anyroad, Green goes across to Morrison, who dumps the puck deep into the far corner. Perreault is the first man into the corner for the Capitals, but he's in a battle with Andrew Alberts. Alberts and Perreault come around the net, so Laich goes down to help. Alberts beats both guys and gets the puck up the near boards to Brind'Amour who dumps the puck deep into the Capitals' zone. Surprisingly, the Hurricanes put on a 2-man forecheck and they're able to waste some clock. Fehr eventually recovers the puck, and moves it across to Perreault. Giroux is cherry-picking behind the Hurricanes' defense, but Perreault doesn't try to get him the puck. Instead he puts the puck into the OZ along the far boards for Fehr. Fehr gets there, but he's pounded down by Andrew Alberts. Perreault comes down to grab the loose puck, and he moves it to Morrison at the point. Giroux cruises through the front of the net, and ends up along the far boards, which puts four Capitals all in a line along that side and Green on the other point. Weird set to have when you're in control on the PP. Morrison moves the puck down the boards to Laich who goes cross-ice for Green. The pass is in Green's skates, but he controls it and moves down the boards. Both Perreault and Giroux slide in toward the net, but when Green turns with the puck, Perreault moves to the near corner, and Giroux drifts back to the far side. Green moves the puck back to Brian Pothier (who's come on for Morrison as the penalty winds down) at the point, and he moves it quickly to Giroux. Giroux is set for a one-timer outside the FO dot, but the pass misses him badly and he needs to go back to the far boards to grab it. He does, and passes the puck to Perreault in the far corner. Giroux then moves to the front of the net. Perreault gets the puck out front and Giroux takes a backhand scoring chance. Leighton makes the save, stops Fehr on the rebound, and freezes the puck.
8:32 to 8:26 of 2nd period, 2-1 Capitals, 5v5 - Giroux is out for an OZ FO with Backstrom and Fleischmann against Matt Cullen, Tuomo Ruutu, and Jussi Jokinen. Backstrom got booted from the circle, but Fleischmann won the draw back to Mike Green, and Green puts the puck on net. Leighton makes the save and holds on for a whistle. Giroux just stood in the FO circle with Tim Gleason for most of the play.
8:26 to 7:52 of 2nd period, 2-1 Capitals, 5v5 - Same men are out for another OZ draw, and Backstrom wins it back to Green. Giroux stays on the far boards. Green passes it to Giroux, but he lets it go and the puck slides along the boards, around the net, and into the near corner. Fleischmann follows the puck around and brings it up the near boards. He gets hit, and Backstrom comes in to provide support. Giroux comes behind the pile and finds some open space. Backstrom gets the puck and moves it to Giroux who looks to cut in to the middle for a shot, but has the puck poked off his stick by Gleason. Cullen grabs the puck and the Hurricanes come out of the zone 3-on-3 (Backstrom is the forward who's back). Ruutu gets the puck coming up the ice and he flips it cross-ice deep into Washington's zone. Green is the first man to the puck. He tries to move it to Backstrom, but Cullen intercepts the pass and moves in toward the net. Cullen has a great opportunity to shoot, but instead forces a pass across to Jokinen that doesn't quite connect. There's a scramble in front, and eventually the Capitals punch the puck up to Fleischmann who skates up-ice with Giroux 2-on-2. Fleischmann skates to the middle as he crosses the line, and Giroux goes to the net. Fleischmann takes a shot, but it's tipped out of play by the Hurricanes before reaching the net.
5:19 to 5:07 of 2nd period, 2-1 Capitals, 5v5 - Giroux, Backstrom, and Fehr hop over the boards with the Hurricanes holding the puck in their own zone, and they've caught Staal, Cole, and Whitney at the end of their shift. Joni Pitkanen is skating through his own zone, and tries to pass the puck cross-ice, but it's blocked by Backstrom who skates into the zone with Fehr beside him. Backstrom comes in slowly along the far boards, which gives him some passing options. Fehr has gone down toward the far corner, and Giroux has skated down to the front of the net. Backstrom gives the puck to Fehr. Fehr tries to go to Giroux who's all alone in front, but his pass hits Nic Wallin, and the puck goes to Backstrom underneath the near FO dot. Backstrom spins and takes a backhand shot. Leighton has completely lost his net so the harmless shot goes in (this was at least as bad as any JDD goal all year). GOAL!
5:07 to 4:21 of 2nd period, 3-1 Capitals, 5v5 - The same group stays out for the Capitals with Fehr lining up on RW and Giroux on LW. The Hurricanes counter with Cullen, Ruutu, and Jokinen. Cullen wins the draw back, but it isn't clean. Fehr is first to the puck and he slaps it backward, probably intending for the puck to go to Washington's defenders, but it instead goes straight to Giroux who pushes it cross-ice into Washington's zone. Fehr is up on the one-man forecheck and tips Gleason's cross-ice pass for Aaron Ward. The puck bounces over to the near boards and Fehr is on the puck first (great forecheck here). He leaves it for Giroux who tries to take a shot from a bad angle, but it's blocked by Gleason. The Hurricanes recover the puck and Giroux is basically chasing the play as they move the puck around. Giroux settles in at the top of the FO circle on the near side momentarily, but when Aaron Ward gets the puck below the goal-line, Giroux skates down to put some pressure on. Ward works the puck up the boards and the Hurricanes get it out of the zone. Ruutu skates the puck into Washington's zone along the near boards and manages to get the puck back to the point. A shot from Aaron Ward is blocked by Fehr and the puck bounces to the far boards. Giroux loses a race to Matt Cullen, but Brian Pothier knocks the puck off of Cullen's stick, and it comes to Giroux. Giroux puts the puck hard off the boards for Backstrom, who controls it and moves up-ice with Fehr. Fehr takes a pass from Backstrom and dumps the puck in. Backstrom briefly forechecks while his wingers change before going off himself.
1:36 to 1:15 of 2nd period, 3-1 Capitals, 5v5 - Giroux is out on LW for an OZ draw with Backstrom and Fehr. The Hurricanes counter with Brandon Sutter, Tom Kostopoulos, and Patrick Dwyer (no, this isn't because of an icing, but lordy these guys could be in trouble). Backstrom wins the FO back, but it needs some help from Giroux to get to the point. Once it's there, John Erskine takes a wrist-shot that misses and the puck stays behind the net. The Hurricanes recover the puck and move up the ice. Giroux is back but isn't marking anyone, opting instead to follow the play with his eyes and stay in open space. Dwyer tries to move the puck off the far boards to Kostopoulos, but it's broken up at the Capitals' blue-line by Brian Pothier who slides the puck back down the ice, right to Gleason. Gleason moves the puck to Sutter on the near boards just over the red-line. Sutter tips the puck past Giroux and into Washington's zone. Erskine is there to get the puck, but Kostopoulos hooks him on the hands and a penalty is called.
15:52 to 15:40 of 3rd period, 3-1 Capitals, 5v5 - Giroux missed one of Backstrom's EV shifts for the first time earlier in the period, but now he's back out with Backstrom and Fleischmann. The trio hops over the boards with the puck in the NZ. Carolina is immediately able to dump it in deep, but they're also changing and there's not much pressure. Erskine moves the puck up to Backstrom in the NZ, and he skates the puck over the line along the near boards. Giroux is positioned at the far end of the blue-line, while Fleischmann skates toward the net. Backstrom cuts toward the middle slightly and takes a shot. Leighton makes the easy save and freezes the puck.
15:40 to 15:28 of 3rd period, 3-1 Capitals, 5v5 - Giroux's group stays out for the OZ draw, and the Hurricanes send out Cullen, Cole, and Jokinen. Backstrom wins the draw back to the point, and Pothier puts the puck down below the goal-line. Fleischmann grabs the puck in the near corner, but his pass to Backstrom is blocked. Giroux circles high, while Backstrom goes to get the loose puck behind the net. Backstrom gets the puck in front to Fleischmann who gets a nice scoring chance. Leighton makes the save and holds on for a whistle.
15:28 to 14:42 of 3rd period, 3-1 Capitals, 5v5 - Carolina changes their defense pairing, but that's it from either team, and it's another OZ draw on the near side. Backstrom wins it again, and Pothier again fires it behind the net. Fleischmann grabs it behind the net, but this time he loses his stick as he battles with Gleason. Giroux was waiting on the far FO dot, looking for a one-timer, but when he sees that Fleischmann lost his stick, he moves down to help. Giroux is too late as Gleason has moved the puck to Cullen who carries it out of the zone, and the three remaining Capitals retreat. Cullen moves the puck across to Cole, but he's marked closely by Erskine down the far boards. As Cole and Erskine battle, Backstrom comes down and steals the puck. The Capitals skate up-ice 4-on-3 as Pothier has joined the rush. Backstrom moves the puck to Flesichmann at the blue-line, who leaves it for Pothier. Backstrom and Fleischmann hang back while Giroux goes to the net and Pothier skates down the far boards. He then attempts to get it to Giroux in front, but the pass is tipped away by Pitkanen. Fleischmann picks up the loose puck on the near boards, and Giroux moves down to the near corner to offer support. Fleischmann moves it to Giroux in the corner, but he's knocked off of the puck by Pitkanen. Pitkanen moves it up to Jokinen, who carries the puck up the ice while his linemates change. Jokinen dumps it in and the Hurricanes send in a forecheck while the Capitals' forwards change.
10:22 to 9:43 of 3rd period, 3-1 Capitals, 5v5 - Giroux comes out for a shift with Mathieu Perreault and Chris Clark. Giroux gets on as Perreault is carrying the puck into the OZ. He loses the puck to Pitkanen, who passes it to Jokinen at the near boards. Jokinen takes a hit from Giroux, but gets the puck back to Pitkanen, and Pitkanen skates the puck out of the zone. Pitkanen carries the puck into Washington's zone, but then gets his stick lifted by Perreault and loses the puck. Pitkanen chases the loose puck to the near boards and slaps it on net. Theodore makes the save and the puck goes to the far boards. Giroux stays high in the zone while Matt Cullen and Chris Clark battle for the puck. Jeff Schultz steps up to take the puck and he moves it to Giroux high in the zone. Giroux turns to skate out, but he's leveled by Aaron Ward and the Hurricanes keep the puck in. Erik Cole, however, overskates the loose puck and Perreault is there to grab it; Perreault moves it to Green and heads to the bench. Green moves the puck to Clark on the near boards who skates into the OZ and takes a slap shot from a bad angle. Giroux is on the far side of the net, but Theodore makes the easy save and directs the puck into the near corner. Giroux skates around the net to join Andrew Alberts and Clark in the corner, but Alberts gets the puck out to Brandon Sutter, and the Hurricanes head up the ice. Sutter skates through the NZ and into the OZ, taking a shot on Theodore who makes the glove save and leaves the puck for Morrison. Giroux goes to the bench as the Hurricanes press on the forecheck. Chris Clark ends up staying out until about 9:18 when the Capitals get the puck back into Carolina's zone.
8:45 to 8:09 of 3rd period, 3-1 Capitals, 5v5 - Backstrom had originally come out with Fleischmann and Fehr, but after a great save by Leighton, there's a commercial break. When we come back, Giroux has taken Fehr's place for the OZ draw. The Hurricanes counter with Staal, Ruutu, and Whitney. Staal wins the draw on the near side, and Giroux comes down to force a play from Pitkanen, but Pitkanen's already moved it around the net. Fleischmann ends up first on the puck there, and he dumps it behind the goal-line. Staal and Giroux arrive on the puck; Giroux lifts Staal's stick and rides him off the puck, which allows Fleischmann to come down and grab it. Fleischmann then skates to the near corner, while Giroux skates through the slot. As Giroux moves out of the slot toward the near boards Fleischmann skates up the boards with the puck. Fleischmann drops the puck down into the corner for Backstrom, who also skates with it up the near boards. Giroux circles through the slot and into the corner, readying himself for a cycle pass from Backstrom. As Backstrom comes up toward the blue-line, Giroux follows to make it a shorter pass for Backstrom, but the Swede instead moves the puck to Milan Jurcina at the point, who dumps it down the boards, past Giroux, and behind the net. Gleason grabs the puck for the Hurricanes and sends it up the near boards. Giroux knocks it down and controls the puck, but it's promptly stolen by Ray Whitney and the Hurricanes move through the NZ. Giroux is there on the back-check, but he decides not to mark any Hurricane player in particular. Whitney passes the puck to Staal as he crosses the line. Staal stops and spots Gleason coming over the line who takes a wrist-shot past Giroux from the point. Theodore makes the save and holds on. This was Giroux's last shift of the game, but it was also Backstrom's last full 5v5 shift of the game, so it's probably not indicative of Boudreau being upset with Giroux's play - there was just a lot of special teams stuff in the last eight minutes.