RALEIGH, N.C. – If you strive to get to the top, you have beat those already up there.
Ending a three-game losing streak, the Carolina Hurricanes held on for a 6-4 win over the NHL’s top team in the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.
Led by a three-point (2g, 1a) night from Warren Foegele and a 25-save performance from goaltender Petr Mrazek, the Hurricanes took the second of four scheduled matchups between the Metropolitan Division foes.
Goals from Lucas Wallmark, Dougie Hamilton, Martin Necas and Andrei Svechnikov supported the effort to beat Capitals starter Braden Holtby who also faced 29 shots on the night.
Despite a 2-of-5 conversion rate on the power play, goals from Nic Dowd, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Radko Gudas were not enough to overcome Carolina’s tenacious play in all three zones.
“We’ve lost three in a row and we needed a win desperately,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
“We needed to be the desperate team, and we needed to be the team that needed to win. I’m just happy that we got it and that the fans can feel good about it.”
Wallmark keeps pace
Tallying his eighth goal of the season, a power play marker at 10:38 of the opening period, Wallmark extended his current point streak to a career-high six games.
Finishing with a high one-timer off a play put together by Nino Niedereitter and Ryan Dzingel, the young Swede’s third power play goal of the season put the Hurricanes ahead 1-0.
“He (Niedereitter) made a great pass to me,” Wallmark said.
“It was a big goal for us and got the fans going.”
End to end
With Carolina carrying that lead into the second period, both teams traded goals early as Foegele scored his first of the game just eight seconds in as he connected on a pass from captain Jordan Staal.
Dowd soon opened the scoring for Washington with his fourth of the season.
Foegele then went to work again, turning the puck over from Caps defenseman Nick Jensen, and then setting Hamilton up to snap the puck past Holtby to put the Hurricanes up 3-1 at the 5:12 mark.
Penalty troubles continue
Racking up five minor penalties throughout the game, the Hurricanes provided Washington ample extra-man opportunities, of which two were cashed in.
Ovechkin’s 24th goal of the season at the midpoint of the period made it a one-goal game again.
Though looking bleak, the situation later in the period with Joel Edmundson in the box for tripping improved for Carolina when a scramble for the puck in Holtby’s crease resulted in Foegele jamming in his third shorthanded goal of the season.
“It did give us another goal,” Foegele laughed in addressing the Hurricanes focus of trying to stay out of the box, even though they didn’t do that well against the Caps.
“We’d rather play 5-on-5.”
Putting it away
Even with a 4-2 lead to start the third, another power play marker from Kuznetsov kept Washington in the hunt to stage a comeback, trailing by one with 18 minutes remaining.
In keeping with the theme of answering back quickly, Necas’ ninth goal of the season, the eventual game-winner, came just 80 seconds later.
From that point on, leading 5-3, an empty netter from Svechnikov put enough distance between the two sides to earn the win, despite Gudas’ point shot that Mrazek didn’t see with 1:13 remaining.
“It’s always competitive playing against these guys,” Foegele said.
“Especially starting this home stand, this was a big win for us, playing against the best team in the league right now.”
Notables: Carolina finished 1-3 on the power play, 29-124 (23.4%) overall…On the PK, the Hurricanes went 3-5, 117-143 (81.8%) overall… With his goal, Hamilton has now registered 36 points (13g, 23a) through 39 games this season, after posting 39 points (18g, 21a) last season. He now ranks tied for second among all NHL defensemen in goals and third in points this season…Saturday’s attendance was a sellout of 18,680, marking Carolina’s fourth sellout of the season. The Hurricanes are averaging 15,978 fans per game through 17 home games this season.
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