The Hurricanes improved to 3-0-0 in their exhibition schedule thanks to a 5-1 win over a Washington Capitals club that played without Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson and John Carlson, among others.
Like they did twice in as many games against the Lightning, the Canes were flying from the start on Friday.
On an early power play, Jaccob Slavin got the puck to Andrei Svechnikov on the half-wall, and the rookie centered it to his fellow countryman Valentin Zykov, who deflected it home to make it 1-0. It was Zykov’s second goal in as many preseason games.
Nine minutes later, the Hurricanes got rewarded for going to the net yet again. Jaccob Slavin pinched in along the far side boards, threw the puck at the net, and the body of Jordan Staal was there to deflect the puck in past Braden Holtby to increase Carolina’s lead to 2-0.
Washington didn’t go away quietly in the opening frame, and they were able to get one back thanks to a great pass from Aaron Ness to Nicklas Backstrom, who ripped a one-timer home to make it 2-1.
Just over one minute later, the Hurricanes got the goal back.
Holtby played the puck and passed it (poorly). Warren Foegele swooped in, threw it back in front to Jordan Martinook, and the new guy capitalized on the penalty kill to regain a two-goal lead for the Hurricanes.
The Caps had an early push in the second period, and a Calvin de Haan interference penalty gave them a power play to go to work on. The Canes were able to kill it off, though; thanks in large part to the combination of Jordan Martinook and Warren Foegele, who consistently shut down the Washington powerplay and generated chances the other way on Friday.
Washington would get another late power play in the middle frame, but Carolina killed it without any trouble and held on to their 3-1 lead. Through 40 minutes, the Caps had just ten shots on Petr Mrazek, who was subbed out for Alex Nedeljkovic entering the third period.
The latter half of the game was pretty loose for both teams. A number of bad breakout passes made life difficult for Nedeljkovic in the third period, but he answered the bell when he needed to and the Canes were able to bail themselves out.
The Capitals had their changes, but a late penalty to Shane Gersich gave Carolina a chance to deal the decisive blow, and they did.
Again, it all happened thanks to the net-front presence of both Zykov and Staal. Jaccob Slavin was able to sneak down toward the crease undetected, and he roofed a loose puck past Washington’s rookie goalie Ilya Samsonov to make it 4-1.
Martin Necas put an exclamation point on the game in the form of an empty net goal with 37 seconds to go, securing a 5-1 win for the Hurricanes.
With the win, Carolina improved to 3-0-0 in the 2018 preseason. They have outscored their opponents 15-3.
The Canes will go back to work on Tuesday when they visit the Nashville Predators.