Capitals return to ‘good old days’

Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green star in win over Hurricanes

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Ovechkin’s “beast mode” by itself can carry the Caps, but they’re almost impossible to stop if Backstrom and Green produce like this.

“That’s part of the responsibility of who they are on the team,” Oates said. “Obviously they all had good games, which is good, pulled us back into it.”

The Caps have pulled back into playoff contention after a brutal 2-8-1 start to the season. It took them 25 more games, but this victory over the Hurricanes pulled them to hockey’s version of .500 at 17-17-2.

“I wish we can do earlier,” Ovechkin said. “We just have to play the same way.”

Falling behind 2-0 isn’t a recipe for continued success, but the Caps managed to come back on a night Jiri Tlusty recorded a hat trick and Semin had two assists. They took advantage of goaltender Dan Ellis’ share of problems and the Hurricanes‘ proclivity to turn the puck over.

The end result was their fifth road victory in the past six chances, one that kept them three points back of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and pulled them within two points of the Jets with two games in hand.

“We knew where we were, where we stand and what games are most important here,” Green said. “Tonight was the biggest one for us yet so we need to come out and play strong like we did, get the two points because if we didn’t we would set ourselves way back. The guys pulled through, guys played great even the third, fourth line. They did exactly what they needed to do tonight for us to win. It was a team effort.”

A team effort led by Ovechkin, Backstrom and Green.

“We just kept rolling,” Ovechkin said. “That kind of confidence after that like what we have, when you play with confidence, you know every chance whether you’re gonna score or not, it’s gonna be hard for them.”

And hard for the rest of the league if these kinds of performances become commonplace again, like the “good old days.”

Notes: Forward Matt Hendricks suffered a scratched eye as part of a scrum and played just four shifts in the final two periods. Oates said he was OK. … Ward reported being all right after taking a puck to the neck. … Goaltender Braden Holtby made 31 saves on 34 shots to pick up his 15th victory of the season.

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