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Capitals @ Hurricanes Recap: Caps Win High-Hitting Affair 4-3 in the Shootout

Ovechkin scored career goal number 769 to tie things up late and Samsonov stood tall in the shootout to push the Caps past the Canes.

Washington Capitals v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes face off at PNC Arena in Raleigh for the second and final time this season tonight. The last time these two teams met was on March 3 in DC, when Vitek Vanecek shut out the Hurricanes in his first game back from injury. The Caps and Canes have a tendency to get chippy when they play each other and the Canes are looking to bounce back from two weeks ago, so tonight has a lot of potential to get feisty.

The Capitals announced just before warmups that TJ Oshie is listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury after last night’s game in Columbus. With that in mind, the Caps’ lines looked like this:

With Oshie out with his LBI and Lars Eller still in COVID protocol, Mike Vecchione is the only extra forward with the team right now. He slots into the lineup right in Oshie’s spot on the second line; this is Vecchione’s first NHL game since April 9, 2017 when he was playing for Philadelphia. Fun fact: that game was also against the Hurricanes.

After Vitek Vanecek’s excellent outing at Nationwide Arena last night, Ilya Samsonov is in net to take care of the second half of this back-to-back. Samsonov, who is 10-4-2 away from Capital One Arena, is looking for his 18th win of the season. Antti Raanta, who has not faced the Capitals yet this season, is in net for Carolina.

Here’s Friday night’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: The Capitals played a really solid first period, which included beautiful goals from Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson.

Minus: An already-banged up Washington roster was without both Nic Dowd and Trevor van Riemsdyk by the end of the game, with both of them leaving for the locker room mid-game. Very bad vibes!

And now, a balancing act:

Eleven more notes on the game:

1. The Hurricanes got on the board first with a goal from Seth Jarvis just 5:17 after puck drop. After the Capitals missed a chance of their own at one end of the ice, the Canes drove down the ice and got their own play set up. Jarvis moved laterally into the slot and fired a dart past Ilya Samsonov through a screen in front, putting Carolina up 1-0. The Caps are 7-9-5 this season when their opponent scores first, so this is a less-than-deal start for Washington.

2. With 12:28 left in the first, everyone was focused on Nino Niederreiter’s hit on Alex Ovechkin and no one noticed Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring his 21st goal of the season. He circled behind Antti Raanta’s net and fired the puck from a sharp angle right above the goal line. His shot went top corner and snuck in between the pipe and the back of Raanta’s head to tie the game at one goal apiece.

This extends Kuznetsov’s point streak to eight games, with six goals and five assists. Go off, Bird Man.

3. John Carlson gave the Capitals the lead at 10:45 of the first with an absolute bomb from the right circle. Connor McMichael carried the puck down to the goal line to draw the Hurricanes towards him and give Carlson plenty of space to wind up and take his slap shot. The shot came off his stick ridiculously fast, giving Raanta no time to really get set.

Despite racking up plenty of assists recently, this was Carlson’s first goal in 12 games.

4. After a scrum by the Washington bench, Nino Niederreiter and Connor McMichael took a seat for matching minors to cue up some four-on-four hockey with 6:10 left to play in the first. Two minutes after Niederreiter and McMichael’s penalties expired, Jordan Staal went off for holding on Anthony Mantha and Mantha went off for roughing after a retaliatory hit right in front of a referee. More four on four. Both teams had chances on 3-on-1 rushes, but neither unit could convert. Then, two seconds after those penalties expired and two seconds before the end of the first period, Connor McMichael took a high-sticking penalty on Jaccob Slavin. When play resumed after the first intermission, the Capitals’ PK was up to the challenge and kept Carolina’s power play off the board.

5. Vincent Trocheck tied the game up just over seven minutes into the middle frame after a rough sequence from the Capitals. They couldn’t clear the zone, and the Hurricanes took advantage of an errant pass that bounced off Nick Jensen and Nicklas Backstrom by the boards. Ethan Bear was there to corral the Washington defensive-zone turnover and send the puck to Trocheck in the slot, and Trocheck’s shot went upstairs on Samsonov and into the back of the net. 2-2 all.

6. With 10:53 left on the clock in the second, Brendan Smith was called for holding on Axel Jonsson-Fjallby and gave the Caps their first power play of the game. Washington’s power play has been clicking lately, but Carolina’s penalty kill is the best in the league right now. Despite the Caps recording two shots during the man-advantage, the Canes’ PK came out on top of this matchup with some pretty stifling play. Of note: Tom Wilson slotted in on the top PP unit to replace Oshie.

7. Seth Jarvis got his second goal of the game with just 13 seconds left in the period, putting the Hurricanes up 3-1. Evgeny Kuznetsov’s stick snapped on a faceoff to the right of Samsonov, and the Caps could not recover after the Canes’ faceoff win. Carolina worked the puck down low before getting it over to a wide-open Jarvis right in front of the crease. He flipped the puck over a sprawling Samsonov, restoring the Hurricanes’ lead.

8. The Hurricanes got their second power play chance of the night when Garnet Hathaway was called for interference on Derek Stepan two minutes into the third. Carolina’s power play was at 24.4% overall and 27% at home this season coming into tonight, but the Capitals’ PK handled them well to start the second period. The Hurricanes got some set plays going, but Samsonov made a few key saves and the Caps’ PK units remain perfect on the night. Still 3-2 Carolina with 16:02 remaining.

9. The Capitals got another power play opportunity with 5:08 left when Trocheck was called for interference on Hathaway, and it took Alex Ovechkin just four seconds to tie the game. Nicklas Backstrom won the draw and flipped the puck to Ovechkin, whose shot went glove-side on Raanta as it rocketed to the back of the net.

That’s 39 goals on the season and 769 for his career. No big deal, right? All tied up with 5:04 to go.

10. Both teams were deserving of a point tonight, so it is only fitting that regulation was not enough for the Capitals and Hurricanes tonight. Tom Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom, and John Carlson were on the ice to start extra time. Backstrom won the initial draw, sending the puck to Carlson to get things started. The Caps had several great chances, but Raanta was in top form for bonus hockey. The Canes did not touch the puck for the first 3:41 of extra time, and then Seth Jarvis was called for holding on Dmitry Orlov after an absolutely incredible shift from Orlov. Cue a Washington 4-on-3 power play.

The Capitals got some good plays going, but Raanta and the Canes’ PK held them off. Then, Evgeny Kuznetsov took a slashing penalty on Ian Cole 1:18 into Washington’s OT power play and the teams returned to even strength at 3-on-3. Nothing came of the remaining 20 seconds of overtime, sending the game to the shootout.

11. The Hurricanes opted to shoot first in the skills competition. Vincent Trochek missed, Evgeny Kuznetsov missed with a ping, Andrei Svechnikov missed, Nicklas Backstrom missed, Sebastian Aho missed, and Alex Ovechkin won it with the only shootout goal. Caps win 4-3.

Up next for the Caps: both the Capitals and Braden Holtby return to Capital One Arena when the Caps and Stars face off this Sunday, March 20 at 5PM EST.