WASHINGTON -- The Carolina Hurricanes grew tired of the Washington Capitals' dominance of the team's rivalry.
Entering Thursday night's game at Verizon Center, the Hurricanes won just five of their previous 17 games against the Caps, and they watched Washington win six Southeast Division titles in the past seven years. The teams are now members of the new Metropolitan Division.
"It's always a battle when we play these guys," Hurricanes captain Eric Staal said after Carolina pulled out a 3-2 win over the Capitals on Nathan Gerbe's third-period goal. "You remember those moments where they got the better of you, and you want to make sure that's not going to be the case anymore."
Gerbe, the smallest player on the NHL at 5-foot-5, scored the biggest goal of the game when he netted the game-winner 6:59 into the third period, giving the Hurricanes (2-1-1) their first road win of the season.
Rookie Elias Lindholm and Alexander Semin also scored for Carolina.
"I thought it was a good, tight game," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "Special teams and goaltending are going to be huge in these games. I expect every game to be like this one."
Special teams was the difference in the first of five meetings between the new Metropolitan Division rivals. The Hurricanes went 1-for-5 on the power play, while the Capitals were shut out on the man-advantage for the first time this season, going 0-for-5.
"Everybody knows we have one of the best power plays in the league," said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who extended his scoring streak to four games with his fifth goal of the season.."But we have to use it. Tonight we did the little things that cost us the game."
Muller said he liked the way his penalty-killers handled Washington's power play, which entered the game with league-high six goals on 12 advantages.
"Our guys really seemed to be in sync," Muller said. "They were in the right lanes at the right times. We didn't see that look that (Washington) has. They're so potent, and they didn't really have the chance to set it up a lot."
Jason Chimera also scored for the Capitals, who failed to protect a lead for the third time in four games and slipped to 1-3-0.
"I don't think it's time to push the panic button yet," said second-year Capitals coach Adam Oates, whose team started last season 2-8-1.
Gerbe was lurking at the side of the Capitals net when a Justin Faulk shot bounced toward him. He drilled a shot past Washington goaltender Braden Holtby for his third goal of the season.
Starting for the second time this season, Hurricanes goaltender Anton Khudobin looked shaky early but settled in for his second win of the season. He allowed a big rebound on a shot by Eric Fehr, opening the door for Chimera to fire a long-range shot past him for his first goal of the season and a 1-0 lead for the Capitals at 5:33 of the first period.
Washington carried that lead into the first intermission, marking the first time they held a lead after any period this season.
The Hurricanes started a three-goal flurry midway through the second period when rookie Elias Lindholm scored his first career goal at the 12:58 mark. Lindholm, taken fifth overall by the Hurricanes in the 2013 draft, ripped a wrister off the stick of Capitals defenseman John Carlson and past Holtby.
"Probably not the way I (imagined), but it still counts," Lindholm said. "It was nice to have it done. Hopefully there's more and more."
The Capitals regained the lead when Ovechkin parked himself in the slot and deflected a shot by defenseman Steve Oleksy past Khudobin at 13:52 of the second. Ovechkin's deflection hit the ice and bounced into the net for his fifth of the season.
It marked the first time in Ovechkin's nine-year NHL career that he started a season with goals in each of his first four games.
Back-to-back penalties to Washington's Joel Ward (closing his hand on the puck) and John Erskine (interference) gave the Hurricanes a 5-on-3 advantage, and Semin made his former team pay when he rifled a pass from Eric Staal past Holtby to tie the score at 2-2 at 16:14 of the second period.
NOTES: Rookie D Alex Urbom, 22, made his season debut for the Capitals. The former New Jersey Devils blueliner was claimed off waivers Oct. 3. He skated on a third defense pairing with Steve Oleksy. Rookie D Connor Carrick was a healthy scratch for the first time. ... The Capitals continue their season-high five-game homestand Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche. ... Semin was booed throughout the night. He has no points in four games this season. ... The Hurricanes begin a three-game set at home Friday night when they host the Los Angeles Kings. It marks their first of 20 sets of back-to-back games this season. G Cam Ward is expected to get the start.