After finally breaking through their offensive drought against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night, the Carolina Hurricanes set out to break another rough stretch on Monday.
They entered their fourth and final regular-season game against the Washington Capitals winless in their three previous head-to-head meetings in 2021-22.
The fourth time was the charm for the Hurricanes, who went into Capital One Arena and blew out the Caps by a final score of 6-1.
Fortune was in Carolina’s favor in the early moments of the game.
Just under three minutes into the opening frame, a big whiff on a Jesperi Kotkaniemi one-time shot saw the puck flutter right onto the stick of a wide-open Derek Stepan at the backdoor.
The veteran pivot made no mistake, scoring his eighth goal of the season to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead.
Carolina continued to put the pressure on Washington throughout the early stages of the game, and that energy netted them their second goal at 7:47.
Brendan Smith held the offensive zone and dished the puck to Andrei Svechnikov down low. Svech’s shot rebounded out to Vincent Trocheck, who slid the puck over to Martin Necas for an easy finish to make it 2-0.
The goal was Necas’ third goal in four games and his second in as many games.
The Capitals had an opportunity to cut the deficit in half near the end of the first period, but a slashing penalty on TJ Oshie nullified that, and the Hurricanes took a two-goal advantage into the first intermission.
After a perfect road period to kick things off, Carolina’s start to the second period left much to be desired.
The Capitals put bodies all over the Hurricanes’ puck carriers in the early going, taking away the time and space they benefited from in the first period. In response to their physicality, Necas threw a spinning elbow that caught John Carlson up high and paved the way for Washington’s first goal.
Right as their power play expired, Tom Wilson cleaned up a deflected puck and ripped it by the outstretched pad of Frederik Andersen to make it 2-1.
Max Domi took a penalty on the faceoff immediately following the goal, which could have spelled danger, but Sebastian Aho had different plans.
Aho flew down the right-wing with the puck, got by Marcus Johanson, and finished beautifully on a drive to the net to make it 3-1.
Two minutes later, during a four-on-four sequence, Brett Pesce pushed his way down into the slot, undetected, and sent a centering feed from Teuvo Teravainen into the net to make it 4-1.
Then, just for good measure, Domi found a streaking Necas barrelling down the middle of the Capitals zone, and the now red-hot Necas ripped home his second goal of the night and his fourth in as many games to make it 5-1.
It was a generally unremarkable period for the Hurricanes, but they managed to net three goals and put the game in blowout territory.
The Capitals opted to pull Vitek Vanecek, who allowed five goals on 23 shots through 40 minutes, in favor of Ilya Samsonov for the third period.
The third period was a formality. Washington never gave much of a push, and the Hurricanes added a sixth goal by way of a long-range Brady Skjei wrister that found its way by Samsonov with 10:03 to go.
The game was all but over when Lars Eller made an unnecessary blindside hit on Jesperi Kotkaniemi with 1.8 seconds left in the 6-1 game. Kotkaniemi’s leg buckled, and he needed significant assistance to get off the ice and into the locker room.
That was an unfortunate way to end a blowout game in the nation’s capital.
Regardless, the Hurricanes will be happy with the result of the game itself. Their best period was the first, and they rode that the rest of the way.
Andersen was sturdy in the net, stopping 25 of the 26 shots he saw as his teammates lit up the scoreboard on the other side of the ice. In the win, Carolina got multi-point games from Necas, Domi, Trocheck, Teravainen, and Skjei.
They will hit the ice again tomorrow night in Tampa.