Hurricanes top Capitals to fend off playoff elimination

Ryan, Faulk, Aho and McGinn score in Carolina win

Capitals left wing Jakub Vrana skates with the puck in front Hurricanes goalie Scott Darling in the first period of Carolina's 4-1 win at Capital One Arena. (Evan Habeeb / USA TODAY Sports)

Justin Faulk got the tiebreaking goal in the second period, and Derek Ryan added a goal and an assist as Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Washington Capitals 4-1 on Friday night in Washington.

The Carolina victory ended a five-game Washington winning streak. In addition, the Capitals had won nine of their previous 10 games.

Carolina remained mathematically alive in the fight for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference. A loss or a shootout victory would have officially sent the Hurricanes to their ninth consecutive season outside of the playoffs.

The Capitals hold a five-point lead over Pittsburgh in the Metropolitan Division and will play at the Penguins on Sunday night.

Washington already clinched a spot in the playoffs, and both teams now have four games left.

Washington had problems getting its offense going, and the Hurricanes outshot the Caps, 30-21.

Carolina goalie Scott Darling (20 saves), who signed a four-year deal last summer to be the team’s No. 1 goalie but has struggled, made some big stops — including one on a Jakub Vrana breakaway in the third period that would have tied the game.

Washington goalie Braden Holtby started consecutive games for the first time since earlier in the March and finished with 26 stops.

The Caps took a 1-0 lead when Michal Kempny fired a slap shot past Darling 2:35 into the second period. John Carlson, set to be one of the biggest free agents on the market this summer, earned his 50th assist of the season on that play.

Carolina tied it just 40 seconds later when Ryan scored on a rebound from Holtby’s right just outside the crease.

The Hurricanes then took a 2-1 lead when Faulk got a loose puck, eluded a few Washington defenders and then fired a shot past Holtby from between the circles with 8:17 left in the second period.

Carolina kept the pressure on in that second period, scoring those two goals and getting 17 shots on net.

The Hurricanes sealed the victory with two third-period goals. Sebastian Aho scored with 5:28 left, and Brock McGinn added an empty-netter later.