It was a pretty eventful night for Mike Green.
The Washington Capitals defenseman blacked out for a second in the first period, was on the ice for six goals - three for and three against - and felt so dissatisfied with his play that he apologized to his coach afterward.
Oh, and he scored the winning goal. Green’s tally 1:16 into overtime propelled the Caps to a 4-3 victory after a sluggish start Friday night against the lowly Carolina Hurricanes at Verizon Center.
“I felt like I had a few chances tonight and just didn’t have my feel. For that last one, I got lucky there, and I was just excited that it went in because [it was] overtime and I didn’t have a great game,” Green said. “It was a great feeling.”
Added coach Bruce Boudreau: “I said, ‘No need to apologize.’ Really good players, even when they’re having a bad game, have a tendency to step up and be in the limelight at some point on a positive note.”
Green’s third-period turnover led to Washington needing extra time to secure this win.
Tim Gleason needed 30 stitches after taking an Alex Ovechkin shot off his face from close range and missed a large chunk of the second period, but he returned with a full shield on his helmet and leveled the score at 3-3. With his team short-handed, Gleason picked off a pass by Green and skated it from one top of the faceoff circle to the other before hammering a slap shot past Jose Theodore with 6:30 remaining.
“Usually we play three high [on the power play], and I can drag it and pass it to that guy and we can create a down-low play, but [Gleason] made a great play,” Green said. “I didn’t even see him.”
Tomas Fleischmann gave Washington its first lead of the night 2:52 into the third period. Mathieu Perreault protected the puck in the left corner on a delayed penalty against Carolina, and after extra attacker Ovechkin cut through the slot, Perreault sent a pass to Fleischmann at the edge of the right circle.
It was Fleischmann’s 11th goal of the season - and only the second game he has scored in with Ovechkin in the lineup. Perreault also broke an eight-game pointless streak.
“I was starting to think about it, but I felt like I was still playing pretty good and creating some chances,” Perreault said. “Tonight it was good to get that out of the way and get a point.”
Mike Knuble returned to the Washington lineup after missing 12 games with a broken finger. He replaced Alexander Semin on the top line after the Caps were shut out Wednesday in Buffalo.
Boudreau put the trio of Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Semin back together again in the second period with his team struggling to create offense, and they produced a pair of goals to even the score.
“Nobody was getting anything done,” Boudreau said. “So I thought at least these guys like playing with each other so they might generate something, and they did.”
Ovechkin fed Semin for his 12th of the season at 13:07 of the period. Jeff Schultz made the play possible by keeping the puck in the zone at the blue line, and Semin’s shot sailed through Brett Carson’s legs and by Cam Ward just inches from his left ear.
Backstrom sprung Semin on a one-on-one break with time winding down in the period. Gleason was able to separate Semin from the puck, but Ward pushed it back onto Semin’s stick with his blocker as Gleason slid helplessly into the corner.
Semin snapped a shot into the net with Ward prone on the ice and just 0.6 seconds on the clock. He has 21 goals in 25 career games against the Hurricanes.
The Caps outshot the Hurricanes 14-5 in the first period, but Carolina - with one road win to its credit this season - proved opportunistic. Seconds after Green went to the ice clutching his face in the offensive end, Jiri Tlusty completed a two-on-one at the other end with his first goal since being acquired from Toronto this month at 2:01.
Green, who said he “went black for a second,” was able to get up after a high hit from Andrew Alberts but opted to skate to the bench instead of trying to get back into the play.
Eric Staal made it a two-goal advantage at 13:56. Staal’s second whack at a wraparound attempt trickled off Theodore’s shoulder, off the inside of the post and just over the goal line.
“We played pretty good, but it wasn’t enough,” Ovechkin said of the first period. “We were down 2-0, and we came back [in the dressing room and] we said we have to do something better. It was 14 shots but no traffic, no rebounds and [Ward] was able to see the puck. It was good to bounce back and win the game.”