RALEIGH — For two periods, the Hurricanes had held the No. 3 goal scorer in NHL history without as much as a shot attempt.
But as teams have learned during his 17-year career, Alex Ovechkin can’t be held down for long.
Ovechkin scored his 769th career goal on the power play with just over five minutes left in regulation to tie the game and had the only goal in the shootout in Washington’s 4-3 win Friday over the Hurricanes in front of a sellout crowd at PNC Arena.
“That’s why he’s the best goal scorer of all time, right?” Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce said. “He doesn’t need much time. All he needs is one chance.”
Ovechkin, with Vincent Trocheck in the box for interference, scored immediately off a faceoff win by Nicklas Backstrom at the start of the Capitals’ power play, rifling a wrist shot past Antti Raanta (33 saves) to tie the game 3-3 at 14:56 of the third period.
“That wasn’t a good penalty, obviously,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said of Trocheck taking the interference call. “That’s a good learning lesson, though. You can’t give a good team an extra chance. You just can’t do it.”
Then Ovechkin was the only player to score in the shootout, going last and backing a shot off the post and in for the winner.
It spoiled a breakthrough effort by Hurricanes rookie Seth Jarvis, who not only ended an 18-game goal drought but had his first career two-goal game.
“It’s been a while,” Jarvis said, “probably the longest I’ve gone without a goal in my career. So to get that one felt pretty nice and it allowed me to stop thinking about things.”
Jarvis got his first goal since Jan. 21 to open the scoring. After helping create a turnover in the neutral zone, Jarvis got the puck from Steven Lorentz at the top of the left circle and cut to the middle, letting go a shot that beat Ilya Samsonov (16 saves) at 5:17 of the first period.
With the game tied 2-2 late in the second period, Jarvis struck again.
Andrei Svechnikov got to a puck behind the Washington net and passed it to Jordan Staal to the left of the net. Staal drew the attention of two defenders and backhanded the puck to Jarvis in front. Jarvis shot over a sprawling Samsonov to give Carolina the lead with 12.4 seconds left in the middle frame.
“He was once of our better players, for sure,” Brind’Amour said of Jarvis, who became the 11th player since the Hurricanes’ relocation to North Carolina to reach 10 goals in their rookie season. “He was noticeable, and not just because he scored, but I think other things — he was engaged.”
Jarvis, however, joined Svechnikov and Trocheck in not scoring in the shootout, sending Carolina to its third straight loss.
“I didn’t get the puck up high enough, but my goal was a quick kind of chip shot over his glove,” Jarvis said. “But obviously that was kind of a poor effort.”
The game had a playoff feel from the start, especially in terms of physicality.
Brendan Smith, in just his second game back in the lineup after suffering a fractured skull Feb. 20 in Pittsburgh, set the tone early with his physicality and had what on most nights would be the check of the game when he crushed Evgeny Kuznetsov into the boards 30 seconds into the third period.
“I think that is a recipe to win,” Smith said of physical play. “If you look at the teams that have won in the last four years, Tampa went and got more sandpaper. St. Louis had a lot of that. Washington. There’s a recipe for that and you need to have that, that grit and the grind. That’s the game I want to bring, and I try to bring it on a daily basis.”
But even Smith had to “tip his hat” to Derek Stepan, who recorded the hit of the night when he put former Hurricanes defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk into the Capitals bench just over a minute after Smith’s blow to Kuznetsov, drawing a retaliatory penalty on Garnet Hathaway.
“Whatever way the games go, I think we can adapt and play,” Brind’Amour said of his team’s physicality.
But the Hurricanes’ power play, still missing Tony DeAngelo, was ineffective in both its chances Friday. The penalty kill, despite Ovechkin scoring on the power play, was crucial in overtime.
With Jarvis in the box for a questionable holding call, Carolina stymied the Capitals’ 4-on-3 advantage, and Ian Cole eventually drew a frustration call on Kuznetsov to end the threat with 20 seconds left in overtime.
The Capitals had seized control of the game in the first period, scoring twice on Raanta.
The first came after a Nino Niederreiter turnover in the Carolina end. The Hurricanes forward pushed the puck around the boards and Kuznetsov collected it before firing a bad-angle shot from the bottom of the left circle over Raanta’s shoulder to tie the game at 7:32.
Just over three minutes later, Connor McMichael found a trailing John Carlson, whose one-timer had a clear path to the net and beat Raanta far side to give Washington its first lead.
Daniel Sprong appeared to have extended Washington’s lead to 3-1 early in the second period when his shot went past Raanta and bounced back into play. But a review revealed that the shot hit the crossbar and then the far post before rattling out.
Carolina capitalized on its new-found life.
First, an impressive forechecking shift led to Ethan Bear getting the puck to Trocheck in a soft spot in the middle of the ice. Trocheck beat Samsonov for his 17th goal even the score 2-2 at 7:06 of the middle frame.
Then Jarvis gave the Hurricanes the lead again before Ovechkin’s heroics.
“It kind of felt like last night to me,” Brind’Amour said, “when our game was on, we just couldn’t find a way to score. This game felt probably the other way. It almost ended up the same kind of result. We actually might’ve snuck one out (despite) not being the better team.”
Notes: Brind’Amour started the games with new lines that included Sebastian Aho playing on Trocheck’s wing opposite Teuvo Teravainen. But as Jarvis’ play gained confidence, the lines were shuffled again and Aho was moved back to the middle between Teravainen and Niederreiter. … Staal won 14 of 16 faceoffs but lost the one at the start of overtime. … Bear has points in consecutive games for the second time this season and has four points in his last seven games. … Jarvis was reinserted in the lineup after Jordan Martinook was injured Thursday in Toronto. The team has still not updated Martinook’s status. … Teravainen has just one point in his last five games.