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Capitals rally to halt three-game skid

The SportsXchange

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Even an unlikely route to a victory worked Thursday night for the Washington Capitals, who desperately sought some success and turned to a goalie who had been mostly inactive in recent weeks.

Mike Ribeiro scored with 2:16 remaining to complete a comeback for the Capitals in a 3-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.

"I felt a little bit rusty, a little nervous," said goalie Michal Neuvirth, who was playing for only the second time in a month. "I battled hard and we got the win."

Ribeiro's 10th goal of the season was reviewed because it wasn't clear at first whether the puck crossed the goal line.

The Capitals snapped their third three-game losing streak, avoiding their worst stretch of the season. They did so by breaking out of a scoring slump after facing a two-goal deficit.

"With the schedule, you can't afford to go four or five games without a point or a win," Capitals left winger Aaron Volpatti said.

Joey Crabb and Alex Ovechkin scored earlier for Washington, which trailed 2-1 entering the third period. Neuvirth stopped 36 shots.

"They came hard and they had the momentum," Neuvirth said. "It gives us a little confidence. We worked hard and I think we deserved it."

The Hurricanes, who had won six of their previous eight games, lost for the first time this season when leading after two periods. They had been 11-0-0.

Alexander Semin and Patrick Dwyer scored first-period goals for the Hurricanes.

"We can't be happy," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. "We had a very well-executed first period. We got away from it. When you have a chance to bury a team, you have to keep with it."

The winning play developed when Carolina goalie Dan Ellis couldn't pull the puck back from behind him before it was ruled to have crossed the line.

Crabb's goal, which came with 14:04 remaining in the second period, stopped a Capitals string of 10 consecutive goals against, a streak that included parts of three games -- including a shutout loss two nights earlier to Carolina.

That seemed to jump-start the Capitals, who had won in regulation only twice in 12 previous games when trailing after two periods.

"Going down 2-0 in the first period isn't good," Crabb said. "We knew we have the skill to come back. ... That's big for us, especially a win like that."

Teammate Joel Ward said, "We had to stay with it. It wasn't going to be an easy game."

Ovechkin's 10th goal of the season came on a power play just 61 seconds into the third period, taking a shot into an open lane to the net before Ellis could recover.

That gave Ovechkin his 700th career point in his eighth NHL season. He's the third player in franchise history to reach that milestone, and he posed with the puck for photographers after the game.

Semin, left alone in front of Neuvirth, scored against his former team 74 seconds into the game. Semin has scored in four of the last six games.

Dwyer redirected a delivery from defenseman Tim Gleason and turned it into his sixth goal of the season. Dwyer has goals in back-to-back games for the second time this season.

NOTES: Justin Peters, who two nights earlier shut out the Capitals in Washington, was Carolina's backup goalie. ... Right winger Kevin Westgarth sat out for the third game in a row as the Hurricanes didn't use one of their enforcers. ... One game after skating nearly 12 minutes in his NHL debut, Washington defenseman Cameron Schilling was a healthy scratch. ... In a trade Thursday that might have more immediate impact on the minor-league level, the Capitals obtained forward Nicolas Dechamps from Toronto in return for defenseman Kevin Marshall, who had been playing for the club's American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey, Pa. ... The Hurricanes announced that they've agreed to contract terms with Keegan Lowe, a third-round draftee in 2011. Lowe will remain with his junior team (Edmonton Oil Kings) at this point. ... Thursday night began a stretch of six road games across seven games for Washington.
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