RALEIGH, N.C. – Washington coach Adam Oates talked with Alex Ovechkin for a minute or two in the hallway in front of the team’s dressing room after the Capitals rallied for a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.
With the Capitals in high spirits after overcoming an early-two goal deficit against the Southeast Division leaders, Oates was most curious about one thing: how did Ovechkin not score on a late breakaway?
“I’m trying to establish a rapport with him so he trusts me in all of the little situations in the game,” Oates said. “And I was making fun of him that he whiffed it.”
Luckily for the Capitals, Mike Ribeiro cleaned up Ovechkin’s miss, barely nudging the puck over the line with 2:16 remaining for the winning goal.
“I’ll take the garbage there,” Ribeiro said. “I missed his shot, and it happened so quick. The ref showed right away that it was in, but I was still not sure.”
Ovechkin and Joey Crabb had the other goals for the Capitals, who snapped a three-game losing streak and moved within eight points of the Hurricanes. Michael Neuvirth made 36 saves.
The two-point night gave Ovechkin 700 in his NHL career.
Alexander Semin and Patrick Dwyer scored for the Hurricanes, who had won six of seven and outscored opponents 29-15 during that stretch. Dan Ellis made 22 saves for Carolina.
Carolina fell to 11-1 when leading after two periods. Washington improved to 3-9-1 when trailing through 40 minutes.
“We can’t be happy,” Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. “We had a really well-executed first period. A lot of really good things. We let them back in during the second period. We got away from it.
“We had long shifts, turnovers, stopped shooting the puck, and these are things that we have to learn from.”
On the winning goal, Ovechkin skated in alone and froze goalie Dan Ellis with a move that left much of the net open. But Ovechkin didn’t get much on his shot, and the puck hit the post.
“I felt like, (Jeez), please just go in somehow,” Ovechkin said. “It went in. Of course, it’s kind of disappointing for me. I can shoot it easily for a second goal, but right now with the kind of position we’re in, it doesn’t matter if it’s me or (Ribeiro who) scores. It’s a huge two points for us.”
With the puck still in the crease, Ribeiro skated in and pushed it into the net. The goal was confirmed by a video review.
Ovechkin made it 2-2 early in the third period with a power-play goal. Ellis deflected a pass from behind the net, but the puck bounced to Troy Brouwer in the slot. Brouwer quickly moved the puck to Ovechkin for a one-timer that beat Ellis, who was out of position.
Carolina got off to a fast start 1:14 into the game when Semin scored his first goal against his former club.
Semin, who signed with the Hurricanes last summer, snapped the puck past Neuvirth after taking a pass from Eric Staal. Semin has five points in three games.
Carolina took a 2-0 lead a little more than 7 minutes later when Dwyer deflected in Tim Gleason’s shot from the point.
At that point, the Capitals had allowed 10 consecutive goals.
Washington snapped that streak when Crabb scored 5:56 into the second period. Aaron Volpatti fed Crabb on a timing play, and the forward redirected the puck past Ellis.
NOTES: Washington was without defencemen John Erskine (upper body) and Mike Green (groin). Tom Poti (upper body) returned to the Capitals lineup after missing one game. … Carolina finished a stretch of six of eight at home.