WASHINGTON, D.C. – Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner tallied his second hat trick of the season that included the game-winner in a 4-3 overtime win over the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on Thursday.
It was the Hurricanes’ second consecutive win in overtime following a dramatic 5-4 comeback win over the Montreal Canadiens on New Year’s Eve that highlighted Alexander Semin as the hero.
In addition to Skinner’s three goals, a top-corner snipe from Manny Malhotra, his second in as many games, gave the Hurricanes the edge they needed to beat the offensively-talented Capitals led by forward Alex Ovechkin.
“It was a big one for us, especially coming off that emotional win last game,” Skinner said.
“They’re an explosive team. They’ve got some guys that can score, and they don’t need many opportunities.”
Carrying a 1-0 lead into the second period as a result of Skinner’s first goal of the game, a power play marker, both teams continued to unleash shots from all angles on Caps goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer (29 saves) and Hurricanes netminder Anton Khudobin (38 saves).
Ovechkin began the Caps rally early in the period followed by goals from Troy Brouwer and Steve Oleksy, while Malhotra and Skinner tallied markers to tie the game 3-3 after two periods of play.
During the third, Khudobin, who made his first start since Oct. 13 when he injured his ankle against Phoenix, and Grubauer both locked down their nets and turned away 10 shots apiece to force the game to be decided in overtime.
Then at 1:20 into the extra period, Hurricanes defenseman Ryan Murphy led the rush into the Washington zone on a three-on-one with Skinner and Malhotra trailing that set up the game-winning goal.
“It was a great pass,” Skinner said.
“It bounces up to Murph, we’ve got a three-on-one, and he sorta’ threads it through the guy’s legs. I just had to just put my stick there and it bounced off my stick and it went in. It’s a heck of a pass – a great play by him.”
Even while looking at the positives of what they did offensively led by Skinner and with Khudobin securing his third career win over the Capitals, the Hurricanes were fortunate that their 10 giveaways and getting beat in the faceoff circle (41-33) all night didn’t hurt them more than the final score showed.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game for us tonight,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said.
“But you know what? We’ve had some games lately where we’ve said we thought we deserved to win and tonight we slugged it out and grinded. It wasn’t pretty, but we found a way to win a hockey game – an important game on the road.”
The win pushed the Hurricanes up to sixth place in the Metropolitan Division standings and only three points out of a playoff spot.