- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2007

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Four days of rest made a difference for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Eric Staal and Andrew Ladd scored in the first two minutes of the third period, and the more-rested Hurricanes rallied for a 4-3 victory over Washington last night to hand the Capitals their first loss in regulation in the 25 games they have led going into the final 20 minutes.

The Capitals, who lost at Buffalo on Wednesday, were outshot 39-10 by the Hurricanes. Through two periods, Washington only needed six shots to hold a 3-2 lead.

“We had a lot of chances, and it was just a matter of time,” said Staal, whose goal 22 seconds into the third period tied the game. “We got a couple of nice plays to get ahead and it was a nice win.”

Ladd, who has scored three of his nine goals against Washington, got the winner less than two minutes later.

Alex Ovechkin scored twice for Washington, notching his second multigoal game in six contests. He almost had a hat trick, but his shot in the final second was blocked in front by Hurricanes defenseman Niclas Wallin.

“They played well defensively. We just didn’t shoot it,” Ovechkin said.

Cam Ward relieved John Grahame in goal at the start of the third period and earned his 28th win of the season. Grahame allowed three goals on six shots through 40 minutes. Ward faced only four shots in his first appearance in 11 days since lacerating his knee against the New York Rangers.

Mike Commodore scored Carolina’s 10th short-handed goal four minutes into the second period to tie it 1-1. Chris Clark got the lead back for Washington with a power-play goal a minute later.

Erik Cole had a power-play goal on a deflection for Carolina to make it 2-2 at 12:38 of the second period before Ovechkin got his second of the game five minutes later.

Washington’s 10 shots matched Carolina’s franchise record for fewest allowed, most recently on Jan. 3, 1999, against Montreal. The Capitals also managed only one shot in the first period, which also matched a season-low total allowed by Carolina.

Carolina has won four of its last six games and still is fighting for a playoff spot.

“Obviously when you see a low shot total, you know it’s a good night defensively,” Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said.

Carolina center Josef Vasicek has assists in three straight games.

Washington center Jiri Novotny had two assists.

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