WASHINGTON (AP)—The Carolina Hurricanes got plenty of power-play chances against the NHL’s worst penalty-killing team, rallied late with two quick goals, and kept Alexander Ovechkin in check for most of the game.
Yet it wasn’t nearly enough—even against an ailing Olie Kolzig.
Kolzig made 31 saves despite throwing up between periods, Matt Pettinger and Brooks Laich both had a goal and an assist, and the last-place but suddenly surging Washington Capitals stretched their winning streak to four by beating Carolina 5-2 Saturday night, ending the Hurricanes’ nine-game victory run.
It was a hard-hitting game, and at one point Capitals defenseman Brendan Witt exchanged words with Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette.
“I’m not going to say anything. He sends a guy after me, and that’s fine,” Witt said. “Him and I had our words, so that’s all I’m going to say.”
Laviolette didn’t offer any details, either.
“He was chirping at me. I don’t know what he said,” he added.
Brad Willsie put the Capitals ahead 14:38 in by knocking in Ovechkin’s rebound, Pettinger doubled the lead 4:01 later, and Ben Clymer put in a slap shot from just inside the blue line at 17:33 of the second period to make it 3-0. Willsie and Clymer scored on power plays.
Carolina made it tight while trying for a franchise-record 10th consecutive victory. Erik Cole scored on a short-handed penalty shot 9:21 into the third period, and captain Rod Brind’Amour added his 21st goal at 11:34 to cut the Hurricanes’ deficit to 3-2.
“Our power play wasn’t working,” Brind’Amour said. “They capitalized on their opportunities, and we didn’t.”
Ovechkin, though, led a breakaway and passed back to Laich to make it 4-2 at 16:46 of the third, Chris Clark added an empty-net goal with 4.9 seconds left, and Washington now owns its first four-game winning streak since Dec. 19-27, 2002.
The reward? Coach Glen Hanlon canceled Sunday’s practice. The greaseboard in the Capitals locker room read: “Day off. Spend your money.”
On paper, the game looked like quite a mismatch. Carolina entered with an NHL-best 68 points—31 more than Washington—and the Hurricanes won the two previous meetings of the Southeast Division rivals by a combined score of 11-2.
Plus, the Hurricanes started the day ranked eighth in the 30-team league in converting power-play opportunities; the Capitals came in 30th in staving off such goals. But with Kolzig playing superbly, Carolina went scoreless on nine power plays, including two 5-on-3 opportunities of less than a minute each.
“Specialty teams, in the end, did us in,” Laviolette said. “They had two power-play goals, and we didn’t do anything. We hit (Kolzig’s) chest or missed the net.”
Rookie sensation Ovechkin’s goal-scoring streak ended after five games, but he did stretch his points run to eight games. He also went down hard late in the second period, when he was tripped by Brind’Amour as they crossed paths near center ice. Ovechkin stayed down on his knees for several seconds while play was stopped, but he returned in the third period.
After the game, he said was OK.
The Capitals continued their recent trend of getting offense from a variety of sources. Clymer scored a goal for the third game in a row, and Willsie for the second—giving each eight for the season.
Pettinger’s 10th came when he flicked a backhand across the goal mouth and past goaltender Martin Gerber. An assist was credited to Nolan Yonkman, a 6-foot-6 defenseman who never registered an NHL assist until Thursday and now has three in two games.
“We’ve proven that certainly we can compete with the best teams in the league,” Washington’s Brian Sutherby said. “Through and through, I thought we played a very good game.”
The scheduled start was 7:30 p.m., a half-hour later than usual; it began a little more than three hours after Georgetown’s upset of No. 1 Duke in men’s college basketball in the same arena. … Carolina was without second-leading scorer Cory Stillman (torso injury) for a second straight game. … Before Cole’s goal, Kolzig had stopped seven straight penalty shots since February 2000—including one in overtime Thursday against St. Louis.