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Capitals vs. Hurricanes Recap: Caps Rally in Raleigh

Washington scored the winner with 1 second left.

NHL: Washington Capitals at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

A night after Carolina snapped Washington’s home streak, the Caps had a chance to return the favor.

And, improbably, they did.

The game was fairly even. Washington was a little better in the first, Carolina better in the second. Both teams tallied on their first two power plays. Jeff Skinner and Brett Connolly traded goals in the third.

Then Nicklas Backstrom ripped off a Hurricanes player in the offensive zone, Jay Beagle crashed the net, and the Caps won, 4-3.

Here’s Friday night’s Plus/Minus:

  • Plus: Alex Ovechkin had a goal and two assists, and could easily have had two more, firing off passes to Devante Smith-Pelly in quality scoring areas.
  • Minus: Discipline. The Caps took five penalties (surrendering two goals), and at least two were of the “pretty unnecessary” variety.

And now, this...

Nine more notes on the game:

  • The Caps started the game in the Hurricanes’ end. Then Brett Connolly took an offensive-zone penalty, and seconds later, Jordan Staal scored a T.J Oshie-like goal from the slot on the power play to give Carolina the lead.
  • Washington tied the game on the power play a few minutes later. The puck was tied up in the corner...then it bounced around the crease. Ovechkin fed Jakub Vrana, who hit the post, and the puck must have hit Lars Eller before going in.
  • The Caps started the second like they did the first, and got on the board early—an Alex Ovechkin one-timer high glove side.
  • Although the Caps got the first four shots on goal in the second, Carolina got 18 of the final 21. It seemed like the Hurricanes set out to get plenty of shots toward the net—Sebastian Aho tied the game on a one-timer from the point—and the Caps did get some zone time, but Carolina did a good job disrupting the Caps just before they got a shot on target. Jay Beagle, for example, had a shot toward an otherwise open net blocked out of play by Klas Dahlbeck. The Hurricanes also got sticks in lanes to try to stop the Caps from completing east-west passes through the slot.
  • Although the Caps didn’t get much toward the net, Ovechkin managed to set up Smith-Pelly for two Grade-A chances. One, Ward stopped (though DSP shot it back into the goalie). The other, DSP missed on.
  • The Caps had some great chances to go ahead, and later tie, the game in the third. Lars Eller hit the side of an open goal early. Ward stopped Evgeny Kuznetsov on a deflection, and later made a terrific pad-stack save on Kuznetsov after a cross-ice pass from Ovechkin at 4-on-4. Later, Kuznetsov almost got the puck across the slot to Dmitry Orlov for a tap-in, but old friend Justin Williams dove back and tipped the puck out of play.
  • Jeff Skinner gave Carolina the lead on a 2-on-3. Brooks Orpik and John Carlson seemed to have the play covered, but Carlson stepped out a bit to cover Lucas Wallmark. Skinner split the D and fired a shot past Philipp Grubauer.
  • Brett Connolly tied the game with three minutes to go. Noah Hanifin, pressured by Oshie on the forecheck, put a puck blindly into the slot. But it went between his teammates and to Connolly, who quickly put a shot past Ward.
  • The Caps ended the game the way they started—winning battles for possession in the offensive zone and putting pucks toward the crease from the circles or outside the circles, looking for deflections. Backstrom ripped off Brock McGinn and Beagle tipped the puck past Ward with a second to go.

The Caps enter the bye period having snatched victory from the jaws of defeat yet again. They’re six points clear of Columbus with a game in hand, and seven clear of New Jersey (which has four games in hand) for first in the division.

The team has some bandwidth now to get healthy and click a bit better—because record notwithstanding, they’ve looked shaky much of the year.