Gerbe leads Hurricanes to 4-3 shootout win over Capitals

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

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RALEIGH, N.C. – Forward Nathan Gerbe picked the corners and led the Carolina Hurricanes to a 4-3 shootout win over the Washington Capitals at PNC Arena on Wednesday.

It was Carolina’s third straight victory in five days, and moved its record to 3-2 in the NHL preseason.

Elias Lindholm, Riley Nash, and Gerbe all scored for Carolina, putting 27 total shots on Capitals netminders Braden Holtby (20 saves) and Justin Peters (4 saves) through regulation and overtime.

Hurricanes goaltender Eddie Lack made 31 saves in the winning effort, even with Alex Ovechkin, Stanislav Galiev, and Michael Latta putting pucks past him.

Lack, playing his first game in his home arena, and the Hurricanes defense were put to the test right from the opening faceoff as Ovechkin lit the lamp just 20 seconds into it.

“I kind of felt like I was chasing the game a little bit in the beginning,” Lack said.

“I just calmed myself down a little bit and just didn’t think what had been, but just focus on the next save, the next save, the next save, and that’s what I did and I was able to calm down, and get better and better as the game went on.”

“I agree with that,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters confirmed when presented with Lack’s assessment of the beginning of the game.

“I thought Eddie was real good once he settled down. A big save there obviously in the shootout.”

Trailing 1-0, Lindholm tied it for Carolina when he finished a tic-tac-toe passing play at 4:19 – a sequence initiated by captain Eric Staal from behind the Washington net.

Staal, who eventually finished with two assists, found Kris Versteeg open at the faceoff dot to Holtby’s left before the winger found Lindholm open in the slot to one-time a shot that ended up inside the right post.

With time and space to carry the puck in off the right wing, Galiev responded quickly and gave Washington the lead back 32 seconds later as his wrist shot beat Lack high to the stick side.

Following Latta’s goal at 5:47 into the second and trailing 3-1, the Hurricanes increased their tempo and puck movement, and 30 seconds later, pulled back to within one goal.

Winning battles along the boards and connecting passes paid off as Nash one-timed a shot high to Holtby’s stick side after Gerbe forced a turnover behind the Washington goal.

Gerbe then scored the tying goal, his first of the preseason, at 8:36.

Alone in the slot, Gerbe used the space he had to snap a shot that flashed over Holtby’s catcher-side shoulder on a 5-on-3 man-advantage setup from Staal and defenseman Justin Faulk.

It was the lone goal scored on the power play on four chances that Carolina had throughout the game.

The intensity of play increased throughout the period and emotions ran high when Washington’s T.J. Oshie laid a big finishing check on Joakim Nordstrom with 1:37 remaining.

Carolina’s Brad Malone took exception to it and all skaters on the ice tangled and tied each other up.

Caps forward Brooks Laich, who had come in to pull Malone free from Oshie, and Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk, eventually exchanged punches.

Faulk landed the only one after pulling Laich off-balance while holding onto his jersey.

Both were assessed fighting majors, and with Malone sitting in the box with a double-minor for roughing, along with Oshie sitting with one of his own, Washington had the power play.

Carolina killed it off successfully and kept the Capitals’ power play silent all game, as the penalty-killing unit finished a perfect 3-for-3.

Both teams played to a scoreless third, but not without dramatics taking place at each end.

Lack made back-to-back saves on Justin Williams and Evgeny Kuznetsov to keep the game tied.

A questionable delay of game penalty at the midpoint of the third for playing the puck in the trapezoid didn’t deter Lack or the Hurricanes.

They successfully killed it off.

With 1:45 to go, Jordan Staal had an opportunity to net the go-ahead goal on a feed in the slot from Nash.

Unfortunately, Staal’s forehand-to-backhand effort slid wide and the score remained tied at the end of regulation.

It provided bonus, value-added hockey viewing for the 6,256 in attendance.

Both teams skated through a scoreless three-on-three overtime period, as Lack and Peters thwarted many quality scoring opportunities to send the game to a shootout.

While Jeff Skinner, the team’s hottest scorer in the preseason, evened it up, Gerbe made the difference in snapping the final shot over Peters’ stick-side shoulder.

Lack finalized the win by stuffing Andre Burakovsky’s snap shot attempt immediately afterwards.

“It’s a huge win for us,” Gerbe said.

“Obviously, it’s preseason, but we wanna win every game at home. To make that stand, that’s a very good team, they dress a pretty good lineup too. So do we; so I thought our compete level and coming back in the game was real big and positive for us.”