- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 18, 2019

RALEIGH, N.C. — A five-goal blowout like Game 3 of this series is one way to lose a playoff game. Then there’s the edge-of-your-seat, something-has-to-break-soon kind of night the Washington Capitals played Thursday.

The Carolina Hurricanes squeezed out a 2-1 win over the Capitals at PNC Arena, shutting Washington out in the third period to hang on and even the series at two games apiece.

Alex Ovechkin scored his second goal of the playoffs and Braden Holtby saved 22 shots for the Capitals.

The Hurricanes scored 17 seconds into the game and again in the waning moments of the second period. Though the Capitals outshot Carolina 31-24, a stark change from Game 3, Carolina kept them away from the crease and limited actual high-danger opportunities.

Matt Niskanen and other Capitals still saw Thursday as an improvement over their embarrassing 5-0 defeat Monday.

“We played way better tonight. That’s a lot better,” Niskanen said. “We were more intense, had more compete, we executed better. But we’ll think and know that we’ve got another level. But it was a step in the right direction tonight.”

T.J. Oshie drew a boarding penalty on Warren Foegele with about five minutes to play, but left the game with an injury to his right arm or hand as a result. But the Capitals couldn’t take advantage of the ensuing two-minute power play, nor could they tie the game with a sixth skater on in place of Holtby.

It’s unclear how long the Capitals will be without Oshie; Todd Reirden said he will miss “quite some time.”

“He plays the game so hard. He’s a heart-and-soul guy,” Holtby said of the right winger. “I have no idea what it is or whatever. But the thing with Osh is no matter what he’s going to find a way to have a positive impact on our team — whether in or out.”

Carolina scored on the first shift of the game, as Jaccob Slavin and two teammates got by Matt Niskanen in the neutral zone for a 3-on-1 breakaway. Slavin set up Foegele for the tap-in goal, his third goal in the last two games.

Before the game’s first minute had expired, Jakub Vrana picked up a charging penalty, and Washington looked outright doomed. But after the Capitals killed the penalty, they got back into a rhythm on both ends of the ice and kept the deficit at 1-0.

The Capitals tried a bit of everything offensively as the second period commenced, including a sequence of three John Carlson shot attempts from the left circle. But it turned out they just needed Ovechkin to score from there to cure their goal drought. He slammed home an assist from Dmitry Orlov from his “office,” then slammed into the glass with a celebratory yell.

Washington could have carried some momentum into the second intermission, were it not for allowing a goal with 27 seconds left in the frame. Three Capitals converged on the puck as the Hurricanes entered their zone, which left the middle lane vacant for Teuvo Teravainen to catch a pass and score.

From there, the Capitals struggled for time in the offensive zone throughout the third period, and defensemen were messy with their puck clearances.

Tom Wilson said the Hurricanes are “working really hard” to make the series tough for Washington.

“The usual playoff hockey things. Forecheck hard, finishing checks and all that,” Wilson said. “We’ve dealt with that in the past and you know, it is still a series. It’s a tied series. There is a lot of hockey left and we got to continue to keep moving forward and keep building our game in the direction that we want it to be.”

The Hurricanes also went down to 11 forwards, losing winger Jordan Martinook. He left the game in the first period when he mistimed a check on Orlov and rammed into the boards awkwardly. Martinook returned before the end of the period, but then missed the final 40 minutes with a lower-body injury.

Carolina was already without injured wingers Andrei Svechnikov and Micheal Ferland.

The series now becomes a best-of-three, starting with Game 5, Saturday at 8 p.m. at Capital One Arena. There will be a Game 6 back in Raleigh the following Monday.

• Adam Zielonka can be reached at azielonka@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide