Alexander Semin and Chris Clark scored two goals apiece as the Capitals beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 on Thursday night.
Semin has scored 10 goals in his last seven games and Clark has goals in his last four. The Capitals snapped a three-game losing streak and avoided losing their seventh straight on the road, which would have matched their longest such streak since the 1975-’76 season.
“It reassures our group that they can play against the reigning Stanley Cup champions,” Washington coach Glen Hanlon said. “You give good effort, you play well, and we can win these games.”
It also helped to get a couple of lucky bounces.
A misplayed puck led to Washington’s first goal seven minutes into the game. Clark was the beneficiary of a tipped puck that went off Carolina defenceman David Tanabe’s stick and into the goal vacated by John Grahame, who had gone to play the dump-in.
“It’s a momentum booster to score first,” Clark said. “It wasn’t the best goal, but nonetheless it went in.
“It was lucky for me and unlucky for them.”
Carolina coach Peter Laviolette agreed.
“The first goal was tough the way it happened, but it happened,” he said.
Carolina took consecutive penalties midway through the second period that kept the Hurricanes from building their own momentum.
After killing off the first, the Hurricanes allowed Washington to score four seconds into the second period to go up 2-0.
Dainius Zubrus won a faceoff to Semin, who blasted a shot over Grahame’s glove. It was Semin’s team-leading 13th power-play goal and his 27th overall.
His second goal of the game came at 9:33 of the third when scored on a breakaway after taking a lead pass from Donald Brasher.
Alex Ovechkin also got an empty-net goal with 21 seconds left to tally his first goal in three games.
Carolina got third-period goals from Erik Cole and Eric Staal but the Hurricanes never got closer than a goal behind.
Washington goalie Olaf Kolzig stopped 34 shots to earn his 260th career win, tying Gilles Meloche for 30th on the all-time list.
“They put on a pretty good push their in the third period,” Kolzig said. “But we never withered and we always got the two-goal lead back.
“It was a big win.”
Grahame made 25 saves for Carolina, which is chasing Atlanta for the top spot in the Southeast and had gotten points in its last five games.
Carolina lost defenceman Niclas Wallin with an undisclosed lower-body injury to start the second period.
Eleven of the last 12 games between the Capitals and Hurricanes have been high-scoring affairs with the winning team scoring at least five goals.