Well, that was certainly a Canes-Caps game.
Washington got the better of Carolina Sunday afternoon in PNC Arena in a very chippy contest, winning 4-2 on a Dmitry Orlov power-play winner late in the third.
The Canes went down 2-0 in the second period after goals in quick succession from Alexander Ovechckin and Aliaksei Protas, but battled back to tie things up in the third period as Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nino Niederreiter both placed exceptional wristers over the glove of Ilya Samsonov
The Caps got the game-winning goal on the power play, as an extended 5-on-3 opportunity led to a 5-on-4 goal from Orlov that put Washington on top for good. The Capitals added an empty netters from John Carlson.
Both teams were throwing their bodies around throughout the contest, as a clear rivalry discontent made its way through both teams. The Caps, at times, used a physical edge to their advantage, really taking over the second period to get the lead.
In net for the Hurricanes was Frederik Andersen, who turned away 21 of the 24 shots he faced. Samsonov was the winner, stopping 30 saves apart from the Kotkaniemi and Niederreiter scores.
The first period was as fun as they get, as the Canes and Caps played a very fast and physical opening 20 minutes.
The Canes came out absolutely buzzing, with Sebastian Aho nearly scoring twice in the opening minute, and proved to be overwhelming for the Capital for the opening 15 minutes or so. Carolina was all over Washington, as the Caps battled the Canes’ blistering pace with a heavy dose of physicality.
The biggest issue for Carolina in the opening frame was some continued incompetence on the power play, as the Canes went 0 for 2 with a man advantage in the first to move their streak of goalless power plays to 14.
The second period was the antithesis of the first period, as the Canes came out on their heels and let the Capitals take the game to them.
Washington finally took advantage of that about 12 minutes into the frame, as the Caps scored two goals in 59 seconds to make a scoreless affair a two-goal advantage. It was Ovechkin that scored the first, tallying his 749th goal off a fantastic effort from Dmitry Orlov. Orlov skated the puck around Jesper Fast, and backhanded a pass to a wide-open Ovechkin, who had to do nothing more than tap it in.
Less than a minute later it was 2-0, as Protas scored his first NHL goal in a unique fashion. Protas, in the corner, tried to thread a pass to Evgeny Kuznetsov in the middle, but instead sent it off the skate of Tony DeAngelo and into the net.
As chippy as things already were in the game, they escalated dramatically in the waning minutes of the middle period. As the Canes successfully killed off an interference penalty on Brady Skjei, Brendan Smith and Tom Wilson went at it after Wilson slashed Andersen and Smith took exception. Both took two-minute penalties on the play.
After the Canes opened up the third period with another phenomenal penalty kill, they finally got on the board thanks to a beautiful all-around effort from the fourth line. Jordan Martinook did some great work on the blue line to keep the puck in the offensive zone and delivered a strong centering pass to Kotkaniemi, who unloaded on a sizzling wrister to beat Samsonov, with Steven Lorentz providing the screen.
With its energy back, Carolina got some good chances in the following minutes and went on the power play again. The man advantage technically came up empty for the third time, but the Canes scored to tie the game at 2-2 seconds after Martin Fehervary had exited the box.
Niederreiter found some place in the slot, like Kotkaniemi had, and got a pass from Martin Necas. Niederreiter unleashed a perfectly placed wrister over Samsonov’s glove, again like Kotkaniemi had, to even things up.
The deciding goal came thanks to two Carolina penalties, as Seth Jarvis sat for holding and Aho sat for slashing to give the Caps a 5-on-3. The Jarvis penalty was a clear one, as he grabbed a hold of a jersey to stop a break, and Aho broke Protas’ stick with the slash.
The Canes killed off the 5-on-3 portion of things with some great effort plays, but Washington made it 3-2 thanks to Orlov a few seconds after Jarvis exited the box. Carlson added a fourth on a full-ice empty netter.
Carolina’s stay at home was a brief one, as the Canes will now head west again for a meeting with the Stars in Dallas.