WASHINGTON – Matt Hendricks even overshadowed Alex Ovechkin in the Washington Capitals’ seventh straight victory.
Hendricks put Washington ahead by hustling to put in a rebound after Ovechkin tied it early in the third period in the Capitals’ 2-1 comeback victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night.
It was Hendricks’ eighth goal of the season, and his first in 18 games.
“He’s going to get those dirty goals in the crease,” Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I’m happy for him, because he works really hard all the time so he deserves some success offensively now and again.”
Washington has beaten Carolina in all five tries this season.
Hendrick’s goal came after Washington killed off Jason Arnott’s hooking penalty and Arnott ended up with a breakaway chance after coming out of the penalty box. Ward went to the ice to save Arnott’s shot, but the puck bounced off and Hendricks skated in to score.
“If there was going to be a rebound, I wanted to be the one to get it,” Hendricks said. “I just wanted to try to get it over his pad.”
The Hurricanes looked like they may have tied the game with 2 1/4 minutes left. Braden Holtby saved a Cory Stillman shot and started to trap the puck. The puck came out and Jay Harrison slapped it into the net, but the officials had already blown the play dead.
“There’s no explanation for that,” Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. “He had his whistle in his mouth before the puck even got close to his glove. … It’s pretty costly.”
The Hurricanes are two points behind the New York Rangers for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
Carolina’s Tuomo Ruutu scored late in the second period to briefly give his team the lead. His shot from the left circle got past Holtby with 36 seconds left in the period.
“I thought we had enough chances to score more goals than one,” Ruutu said. “I didn’t think we played a bad game, we just didn’t finish it.”
Cam Ward made 24 saves for Carolina, including several big stops to keep the game scoreless in the first two periods.
“Cam Ward’s one of the best goalies in the league. That’s enough said. He’s a great goaltender,” Hendricks said. “We knew we had to keep going to net, going hard, put as many shots on him as we could and we’d get a bounce here or there, and we did.”
Ovechkin made Carolina’s lead short-lived after the break, scoring 47 seconds into the third period. Marcus Johansson brought the puck past the blue line and made a touch pass behind him to the trailing Ovechkin, who shot the puck past Ward for his 28th of the season.
“He fired one really off his back foot, and snaps a rocket right into the joint of the net,” said Washington forward Mike Knuble, who also had an assist on the play. “You can’t fault Cam Ward there at all. It’s unstoppable, really.”
Ovechkin has scored at least one point in each of his past seven games, and 11 of the last 12. He has four goals and seven assists in the seven-game streak.
Holtby stopped 40 shots to get the win two days after his first career shutout, a 5-0 win against Edmonton.
Washington is two points behind Philadelphia for the Eastern Conference lead and is on its best run of the season as the playoffs approach.
“I think we’re all happy it’s not November right now or December throwing this streak together,” Knuble said. “I think we want to really start playing well towards the end of the year.”
NOTES: Washington C Nicklas Backstrom sat out his second straight game because of a left hand injury, the first games he has missed in his four-year career. Backstrom played in his first 313 games, the third-longest streak in Capitals history. … Carolina is 21-1-0 this season when leading after two periods.