RALEIGH, N.C. – Ray Whitney has found himself a leader of a very young Carolina Hurricanes team as the regular season winds down.
On Thursday night, he showed the youngsters how to get it done against the best team in the NHL. Whitney ripped the puck past the left armpit of rookie goalie Semyon Varlamov at 4:02 of overtime, giving the Hurricanes a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals.
“Coach (Paul) Maurice actually had a pretty good comment before the game,” Whitney said. “He said, ‘Young guys, you have the opportunity to show what you have, playing the top team.’ It’s tough now in the situation that we’re in, but you’re kind of demanded to lead by example and do the best you can in a bad situation.”
Eric Staal had a goal and set up Whitney’s winner. Brett Carson and Chad LaRose also scored for Carolina, which is in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and eight points behind the eighth-place Boston Bruins with 12 games left in its season.
Eric Fehr forced the overtime for Washington, scoring with 10 seconds left in regulation and Varlamov off for an extra attacker.
“It was an unusual game,” Maurice said. “There was some banging and some strange plays. But I think we got to shoot the puck the way we wanted to in the third period, put some shots up and had some chances.”
LaRose put the Hurricanes ahead on a breakaway with 1:35 to go. It was LaRose’s fifth goal of the season and 100th NHL point.
Washington played without captain and scoring leader Alex Ovechkin, serving the second of a two-game suspension for his hit on Chicago defenceman Brian Campbell on Sunday. Defenceman Joe Corvo, obtained from the Hurricanes in a March 3 trade and playing his first game back in Raleigh, had Washington’s first two goals, including one on a power play.
Carolina goalie Justin Peters and Varlamov each made 25 saves.
“We held them to 15 shots after two periods,” Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. “That was our goal. But I don’t know what happened in the third period they started feeling it a little. If you leave a team around long enough, they take advantage of the opportunity.”
Carolina was without defenceman Tim Gleason, expected to be sidelined three weeks with a broken foot. He was injured Saturday against Phoenix and played through it Tuesday night against Boston.
Staal’s 72nd career power-play goal, which tied it 1-1 in the second, put him into second place on the franchise’s career list past Kevin Dineen and 60 behind current associate head coach Ron Francis.
Notes: Carolina’s Brian Pothier, who came from Washington as part of the trade for Corvo and Walker, was playing his first home game against his former team since the trade. … Washington forward Boyd Gordon was out with a back injury and is listed as day-to-day.