RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes had won four straight against the Washington Capitals dating back to last season’s playoff matchup that saw the 2018 Stanley Cup champs knocked out in the first round.
While the Capitals snapped their drought against the Hurricanes with a 4-3 win Friday in front of a sellout crowd of 18,680 at PNC Arena, the game lived up to its billing.
Washington built a three-goal lead early in the third period, only to see Carolina score twice on the power play and push for the tying goal.
But Dougie Hamilton’s roughing penalty — a punch to the back of Washington forward T.J. Oshie’s head following a hard hit into the boards — stalled momentum, and the Capitals held on to end their first two-game losing streak of the season.
“That’s what you would expect,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said of the playoff-like intensity of the game. “It seems like every time we play them, that’s pretty much how the games go. Pretty tight, lots of scoring chances there. Just didn’t find a way to pull it out.”
It looked like Carolina’s penalty kill — a strong point all season — would be its undoing.
The Capitals got the game’s first goal early when the rebound of a Richard Panik shot hit Carolina’s Brett Pesce and went in the Hurricanes’ net, and then Washington’s power play went to work.
With Sebastian Aho in the penalty box for interference, Capitals defenseman John Carlson crept in from the blue line and made a perfect backdoor pass to Evgeny Kuznetsov for a two-goal lead at 5:07.
Carolina got one back — a Jordan Staal redirection 39 seconds into the third period — but the Capitals’ power play quickly struck again.
With Erik Haula off for an offensive zone slashing call, Washington captain Alexander Ovechkin blasted a shot that went wide of Petr Mrazek (25 saves) and caromed right to Lars Eller on the other side of the net. Eller banged it in for an easy goal and a 3-1 lead 2:29 into the third.
“Our PK’s gotta be better,” captain Jordan Staal said. “Obviously, they have a very good power play.”
Jakub Vrana seemed to deliver a dagger shortly thereafter, depositing a cross-ice feed past Mrazek at 4:51 to push the Capitals’ lead to 4-1.
“We can’t get ourselves in that hole, that’s the bottom line,” said Hurricanes winger Ryan Dzingel. “I don’t know what else to say other than that.”
Carolina’s power play — “horrendous,” according to Dzingel, in the first two periods — made it a game.
Teuvo Teravainen scored for the first time since Nov. 24 — a 16-game drought that included 14 assists in his last 11 games — on a rebound just eight seconds into Carl Hagelin’s hooking minor to make it 4-2 at 6:35 of the third.
Then the second power play unit scored exactly six minutes later when Martin Necas faked a one-timer from the left flank and instead slap passed the puck to Dzingel in the slot. Dzingel rifled the puck high glove past Ilya Samsonov (38 saves) for his eighth goal of the season.
“He’s been trying to look for me there for a while, and it was a great pass by him,” Dzingel said of Necas’ feed.
But Carolina couldn’t get the equalizer despite the building momentum on the ice and in the sold out arena, and Hamilton’s penalty with under three minutes left gave the Hurricanes little time to pull Mrazek in an effort to tie the game.
Oshie seemed to relish the call and was all smiles as he got off the ice after drawing the infraction.
It added just another layer to a rivalry that is growing by the game.
“When you see a team in playoffs, usually next year there’s a little added rivalry, I think,” Staal said. “Obviously, a good team and always a good test. When they come in this building, our fans know it, we know it.
“We came up short this time, and we’ll have to get them in their building.”
That rematch will be Jan. 13 in Washington, the final time the teams meet this season. At least in the regular season.
Notes: Carolina held a 71-43 shot advantage. … The Hurricanes won 36 of 58 faceoffs, led by a 13-of-19 showing by Aho. … Aho was called for two minor penalties for just the third time in his career. … Svechnikov had two assists for his 13th multipoint game of the game. … Defenseman Joel Edmundson was the only Hurricanes skater to not register a shot on goal. … Warren Foegele had five shots for Carolina, the fifth time in his career he’s registered at least five shots on goal. The previous four times he scored in each game and had a combined seven points — that includes his three-point game in the Hurricanes’ Game 3 win over the Capitals in last season’s playoffs. … Nic Dowd was given a 10-minute misconduct at the end of the first period after he threw Svechnikov’s stick into the stands following a scrum.