The Carolina Hurricanes welcomed in the Washington Capitals for the second of the teams home-and-home match-up. Tuesday night in the nations capitol the Canes played, maybe their most complete game of the season and blanked Washington 4-0. Thursday night in Raleigh began the way Tuesday night ended, with the Hurricanes scoring at will. On the backs of first period goals by Alexander Semin and Patrick Dwyer, the Hurricanes headed to the first intermission up two goals and in complete control of the game. Or so it seemed.
Carolina got on the boards early when Alexander Semin scored on his lines first shift. Eric Staal found Semin alone in front of the net and the former Capital buried the puck behind his old team. Later in the first another former Capital, Joe Corvo had his shot redirected by Patrick Dwyer and the Hurricanes were up by two. The Capitals were able to keep the game within reach with a second period goal by Joey Crabb, his second of the year.
The third period started with a man advantage for the Caps. With Eric Staal in the box for a high-sticking penalty late in the second period, Alex Ovechkin made the Carolina captain pay. Ovechkin’s game tying goal was also his 700th career NHL point.
With just over two minutes left in the game the Washington captain again had the game on his stick. On a line change John Carlson found Ovechkin streaking up the ice. After making Carolina goalie Dan Ellis commit and go to his stomach, Alex Ovechkin had the backside of the net wide open only to see his shot bounce off the post and slide along the goal line. On a scramble in front of the net Mike Ribeiro was just able to nudge the puck over the line before Jiri Tlusty swatted it away. Referee Chris Rooney was in perfect position to see the puck cross and immediately signaled a goal, however the play was close enough to have instant replay confirm Rooney’s call on the ice.
All the talk after the game was about the goal.
“I wasn’t sure [it would count] going to the bench, it happened so quick,” Ribeiro said. “I actually missed my shot there. If you look at it at top speed, it doesn’t look like it is in. We’ll take that. I’ll take that too.”
The win snaps a three-game losing streak for the Capitals, however more importantly, breathed a little life into a division rival.
“We can’t be happy,” Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. “When you have a chance to bury a team, you have to keep with the program and go for that third goal.”
The Hurricanes look to stay on top of the standings when they travel to face another Southeast Division rival in Tampa on Saturday.