RALEIGH, N.C. – It was the type of game any hockey fan would want to watch.
Goals, goals, goals, and more goals.
That’s what the 14,436 in attendance at PNC Arena got on Friday as the Carolina Hurricanes battled hard against the defending Stanley Cup-champion Washington Capitals, but lost 6-5 in a shootout.
The bipartisan crowd traded cheers, jeers and goal celebrations standing from the 47-second mark in the first period when Carolina’s Jordan Martinook opened the game’s scoring until the final puck bulged the twine on Jakub Vrana’s winning shootout goal for the Capitals.
“Shootout’s a tough way to lose a game, a great way to win,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
“But it leaves a sour taste in your mouth for sure.”
Pucks were flying at both ends as goalkeepers Scott Darling and Braden Holtby made 24 and 22 saves, respectively, as Washington outshot the Hurricanes 29-27.
Led by a four-point performance from Sebastian Aho, the Hurricanes built up a 4-1 lead through the early part of the second.
Special teams play was significant for both sides as Carolina finished 3-of-6 with goals from Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, and Justin Williams, while Washington’s lone power play goal came off a blast from Ovechkin.
With a hat trick finish, Ovi helped to wipe out the sizeable margin between the two sides.
Washington led 6-5 with 10:11 remaining in the third, until Williams’ seventh goal of the season evened it up four minutes later.
It was an evenly played and grueling bout as both teams traded hits, giveaways, and takeaways for 65 minutes.
In the end, it was the Capitals who earned the extra point while the Hurricanes added another heavy, emotional loss to their psyche.
They’ve now lost six of their last seven games.
The load bearing on the shoulders of both Williams and Aho was visible in the dressing room afterwards.
Both players were slumped in their stalls before they straightened up to talk to the media.
“A lot of ups and downs,” Williams pointed out.
“A lot of changes in momentum, and then once they got down, they started playing a different game and scored some goals because of it.”
“Four-one up and then we lose it,” Aho added.
“Again, again, again, again we have to learn our lesson.”
Starting a five-game home stand with such a loss even had Brind’Amour re-thinking the team’s routine heading into its next game against Arizona on Sunday.
“They need to probably get away tomorrow,” Brind’Amour said.
“We talked about practicing. We talked about meeting. I don’t know. I’ve gotta sit down and talk with the staff. They get a good feel for what we need to do. A tough couple of days really.”
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport