Gardiner’s OT winner lifts Hurricanes over Capitals

Hurricanes defenseman Jake Gardiner celebrates his game-winning overtime goal with center Sebastian Aho in Carolinas 3-2 win in Washington over the Capitals. (Nick Wass / AP Photo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Three new players helped the Carolina Hurricanes beat an old nemesis on Saturday night.

Jake Gardiner scored his first goal for his new team in the last minute of overtime, James Reimer debuted by making 33 stops and the Hurricanes rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period for a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals.

Fellow newcomer Erik Haula added his second goal early in the third to begin the Hurricanes’ second comeback in as many games. In their home opener, Carolina tied it in the third before beating Montreal in a shootout.

Gardiner signed a free agent deal with Carolina during the offseason, while Haula and Reimer arrived in trades.

“It obviously helps us,” said Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour of the trio’s contributions. “But it’s more them, feeling part of the group. When you can contribute, it’s automatic now. You feel like you’re part of the group. So I think it’s huge for those guys.”

Jaccob Slavin scored Carolina’s game-tying with just over 10 minutes left.

T.J. Oshie scored his second goal of the season for the Capitals. Garnet Hathaway, himself a new arrival to Washington, added his first goal and Braden Holtby made 25 stops.

But the Capitals went 0 for 6 on the power play, including a 4-on-3 advantage in overtime after Jordan Staal was called for hooking Nicklas Backstrom. The end result was another loss to the team that knocked them out of last season’s playoffs in a seven-game, first-round series.

“You can’t go 0 for 6 and then expect to have the outcome you want,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. “So then it comes down to looking at why it was happening. I thought their penalty kill worked extremely hard and were able to come out with more puck battles than we were.”

Washington struggled to find a clear look in the overtime power play, coming closest to scoring when a pass deflected off Carolina defender Joel Edmundson’s left skate and struck the post.

Instead, it was Gardiner who ended the game a couple minutes later. He picked up the puck in his own end and skated down the left into a 2-on-1. As Backstrom defended the cross-ice pass, Gardiner rifled a shot that found its way between Holtby and the left post.

“I saw there was a guy trailing, and I had to make a decision whether I was going to pass or shoot,” Gardiner said. “I thought I had a pretty good angle at it.”

Haula made it 2-1 with 17:24 to play on Carolina’s third power play of the game, finding a spot just in front of Holtby’s crease and redirecting Teuvo Teravainen’s feed beneath his pads.

Slavin evened the game just over seven minutes later, as the Hurricanes converted on a 4-on-2 break. From right to left, Warren Foegele found Jordan Martinook, who then picked out Slavin, who used his hand to help control a bouncing puck before squeezing a low shot past Holtby.

“We’re just a resilient group, and I think that showed in the first game as well,” Slavin said. “It wasn’t pretty, but at the end of the night, we got the two points, and that’s what we wanted to do.”

NOTES: Saturday’s game marked the last in a three-game suspension for “inappropriate conduct” for Capitals C Evgeny Kuznetsov. In August, the IIHF announced the 27-year-old Russian was suspended four years from international competition after violating the world anti-doping code with a positive test for cocaine. … Alex Ovechkin will throw out the first pitch at Game 4 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday. … Washington was 15-1-1 in its previous 17 home openers. … After Reimer’s debut for Carolina, Petr Mrazek is expected to make his second start in goal for the Hurricanes on Sunday. … Carolina has scored power-play goals in each of its first two games.

Up Next

Hurricanes: Return home to host Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Capitals: Face Dallas at home Tuesday.