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Capitals' Ovechkin, Green spark win over Hurricanes

The SportsXchange

RALEIGH, N.C. - This might be just the time for the Washington Capitals to turn it on in the shortened NHL season.

"This is about when guys start to feel good during a season," Capitals defenseman Mike Green said after the team's 5-3 victory Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Alex Ovechkin and Green each scored twice and the Capitals overcame a two-goal deficit and a hat trick from Jiri Tlusty to defeat the slumping Hurricanes at PNC Arena.

The Capitals are back to .500 at 17-17-2, securing at least one team point for the third game in a row.

"I wish we could have been (here) earlier," Ovechkin said of the team's record. "We just have to play this same way."

Washington's Nicklas Backstrom assisted on four goals as the Capitals passed the Hurricanes to move into second place in the Southeast Division. Goalie Braden Holtby made 31 saves for the Capitals.

Ovechkin, who also registered an assist, has a team-high 20 goals this season.

"Just dropping it there and let him do the rest," Backstrom said of Ovechkin's goal-scoring tendencies.

Joel Ward's short-handed goal with 44 seconds left in the second period pushed the Washington edge to 5-3. The Capitals scored on five of their 11 shots through two periods.

The Hurricanes, who've lost nine of their last 10 games, haven't scored more than three goals in the last 10 games.

"We didn't get the bounces we needed to," Tlusty said. "We gave up too many odd-man rushes."

Carolina's home losing streak increased to five games. It marked the first time the Carolina franchise lost with one of its players notching a hat trick since 1997 when the team was still called the Hartford Whalers.

Tlusty's second and third goals came on power plays. The Hurricanes, who rank last in the league on the power play, scored more than one power-play goal in the same game for the first time since Feb. 12 against New Jersey.

Tlusty's third goal came 1:52 into the second period. It gave him a team-leading 17 goals this season and marked the 100th point in his six-year NHL career.

The Capitals tied the game at 2-2 by scoring twice in a two-minute stretch spanning the first and second periods.

Ovechkin's first goal came with 39 seconds remaining in the first period. Green's power-play goal was delivered 42 seconds into the second period.

"We need goals like that," Green said of the tally late in the period. "Those are big for momentum. We've been on the opposing end of those."

Ovechkin's penalty led to another Carolina power play, with Tlusty converting off a pass from Eric Staal just 1:52 into the second period.

But Green struck again less than three minutes later, taking a pass from Backstrom and gliding toward the slot before unleashing a shot past goalie Dan Ellis. That marked the end of the action for Ellis, who was replaced by Justin Peters.

Tlusty's second goal came on a power play and it was set up by Marc-Andre Bergeron, who was acquired earlier in the day in a trade from Tampa Bay.

"It has been a fun day, a tough day, a weird day," Bergeron said. "I'm very happy to be here, that's the main thing. ... I'm excited. You can't tell right now."

Washington also overcame a 2-0 hole to win in the same building March 14.

This time, a 34-19 advantage in shots for the Hurricanes wasn't enough.

"I thought we had a real strong effort, a strong game," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said.

Carolina defenseman Joni Pitkanen was taken off the ice on a stretcher with 1:57 to play in the second period after he suffered an apparent lower leg or ankle injury as he slammed into the boards chasing the puck in an icing situation.

Ellis, playing for the first time since March 21 because he missed time with a cut on his leg, stopped 4 of 7 shots.

NOTES: Bergeron made his Carolina debut after he was acquired earlier in the day in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Hurricanes sent Adam Hall, who had been picked up off waivers from Tampa Bay a few weeks earlier, back to the Lightning along with a seventh-round pick in June's draft. ... Hall will have a chance to play against the Hurricanes when the teams meet Thursday night in Raleigh. ... Defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti was back in the Carolina lineup after missing four games with an upper-body injury. He was activated from injured reserve earlier in the day. ... Defenseman Jamie McBain was a Carolina scratch, sitting out for the first time since late February. ... Washington's scratches were left wing Wojtek Wolski and defenseman Jeff Schultz. They've both played in only two of the team's last seven games. ... Carolina right wing Tuomo Ruutu missed his second game in a row with a groin injury after appearing in four consecutive games following offseason hip surgery. ... The Capitals completed a three-game road swing. They have only four road games remaining across their final 12 games.
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