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4 reasons the Caps beat the Hurricanes

4 reasons the Caps beat the Hurricanes

The Caps pulled off an improbable 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes as they scored the game-tying and game-winning goal both in the final four minutes of the third period.

It looked like the Caps were headed for two regulation losses at the hands of the Hurricanes in as many nights, but late goals from Brett Connolly and Jay Beagle saved a victory from the jaws of defeat. Here is how the Caps managed the unbelievable win.

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How many times have you watched the Caps and yelled, "Shoot the puck!"? Probably a lot. Washington ranks dead last in the NHL in shots per game and there are definitely times when the team seems to give up opportunities to look for the "perfect" play. When it came to those two late goals, however, there was no hesitation. Noah Hanifin made an egregious mistake as he threw the puck up the middle in the defensive zone. Connolly was the first to the puck and he simply fired it on net. There was no stick-handling, no fakes, no ill-advised passes, just a one-touch shot and a goal. With the clock winding down in the final minute of regulation, Nicklas Backstrom sent a pass to Beagle and he didn't have time to do anything but sweep the bouncing puck in.

The power play

On Thursday, the Caps went 0-for-3 on the power play and it was a definite factor in their loss. On Friday, it helped them win. Lars Eller scored a power play goal on the team's first opportunity in the first period to tie the game at 1. Alex Ovechkin also scored from the office at the start of the second. The goal was scored as the penalty expired so while it does not officially count as a power play tally, it essentially was. Washington finished 1-for-4 with the extra man, 2-for-4 if you count Ovechkin's goal.

MORE: VIDEO OF BEAGLE'S BUZZER BEATER

Lars Eller

Who has the longest goal streak this season for the Caps? It's not Ovechkin or Oshie, but Eller who now has scored a goal in each of the last four games and has five goals in the last seven. The third line was again Washington's best on the net with Eller at center.

The top six

The Caps' top playmakers had been notably quiet of late, but they contributed in a big way in Carolina. Ovechkin scored from the office and added two assists, Backstrom assisted on the miracle Beagle goal and both Vrana and Kuznetsov chipped in assists as well.

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!