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The Washington Capitals returned to Verizon Center on Saturday night to find an old foe waiting for them. The Carolina Hurricanes, who started the season with an eight-game losing streak, took the ice looking to extend a four game winning streak. The Caps dominated the first two periods to take a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes, but a recurring problem - third period play - let the Hurricanes back into the contest with a pair of goals five minutes apart mid-way through the final frame. The game went to extra time, and it looked as if a shootout was in order. However, with just 14 seconds left in overtime, Nicklas Backstrom pounded a rebound of an Alex Ovechkin shot past a diving Anton Khudobin for the game-winner and consecutive wins for the Caps for the first time in three weeks.
Ten more notes on the game:
- For Alex Ovechkin it was his 400th assist in the NHL. Since he came into the league in 2005-2006, only ten other players have recorded more assists.
- Until the game-winner, it was a secondary scorer's show for the Caps. Troy Brouwer netted his fourth goal in six games and his fifth of the season. Eric Fehr netted his second of the season, both coming over his last three games. Jay Beagle scored his first of the season.
- None of the first three Caps goals were actually shot directly in off a Capital's stick. Brouwer's goal was batted into his own net by Patrick Dwyer. Beagle's goal was scored from behind the Carolina goal line when he swatted the puck off the back of goalie Anton Khudobin's leg. Fehr's goal was redirected into the Hurricane's net off the stick of Carolina defenseman Brett Bellemore. There was no doubt about Backstrom's goal, though.
- Backstrom almost ended the game in the first minute of overtime when Khudobin was handcuffed by a John Carlson shot. With the loose puck lying at the top of the crease, Backstrom turned and fired at what was an open net, but he sent the puck wide left.
- The Caps dominated the possession numbers, winning the Corsi war, 74-56 overall and 54-48 at 5-on-5. They went into a shell when getting that two-goal lead, though, the Hurricanes out-attempting the Caps, 17-15, at 5-on-5 when trailing by two goals.
- Andre Burakovsky and Marcus Johansson both were plus-10 in Corsi at 5-on-5. That was impressive, but they did it in almost 15 and almost 17 minutes of even strength ice time, respectively. Now, consider this. Evgeny Kuznetsov was plus-7 Corsi in just seven minutes of ice time at even strength. Part of it is the nature of the competition he was facing, since he was getting largely fourth line minutes. Still, it was rather impressive.
- The one thing Kuznetsov did not do was record a shot on goal of his own. He and Tom Wilson (more on him in a moment) were the only Caps not to share in the 39 shots on goal. That 39 shot total was a season high for Washington. There was balance among those shots, too. Ovechkin, Fehr, Johansson, and Backstrom all finished with four shots on goal.
- How much did the momentum turn in this game? The Caps outshot the Hurricanes, 22-9 at even strength in the first two periods. Carolina outshot the Caps, 14-8 at evens in the third period.
- With a pair of assists, John Carlson is now tied for fifth in scoring among league defensemen (2-9-11). Mike Green's assist on the game-winning goal put him into a tie for eighth in scoring among league defensemen and gave him a plus-1 for the game. In 13 games, Green has only one "minus" game, that minus-4 game against Calgary last week.
- The Caps are nicked up. Brooks Laich was a scratch after sustaining (or aggravating) an upper-body injury in the win over Chicago on Friday night. Tom Wilson went down to a lower-body injury while still in the midst of what would be a monster 1:52 shift in the second period. He did not return.
The Caps did it the hard way, but they did it. This was a game that Washington should have won, based on the underlying numbers, but the effort in getting to those numbers was uneven. They piled up the possession numbers early in the game, then frittered most of that advantage away in the third period. But the big guns - Mike Green, Alex Ovechkin, and Nicklas Backstrom - came through just in time to save what could have been an uncomfortable finish. But two points is two points, and that's the finish that matters.