WASHINGTON — On a rare night when they didn’t have the services of Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals kept pace with the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes all night but ended up on the wrong end of a back-and-forth affair that tilted 3-2 in Carolina’s favor.
Ovechkin stepped away from the Capitals early in the morning to attend to a family matter and the health of a loved one. Playing just their 49th game without him since he made his NHL debut in 2005, the Capitals were going to need some other players to step up if they were going to keep pace with the Hurricanes.
The player who did ended up being the one was called up to replace Ovechkin. Washington recalled Snively from their AHL affiliate Hershey Bears on Tuesday and the Herndon, Virginia, native made his way into the lineup when Aliaksei Protas departed to be with his wife, who was expecting the couple’s first child.
Playing in his first NHL game in two months, Snively made key plays on both of the Capitals’ goals. He recorded his first point of the night with a feed to T.J. Oshie on an odd-man rush late in the first period.
After the Hurricanes responded with a goal of their own, Snively did it himself with a snap shot from the left circle on a breakaway.
His performance marked just the second multi-point game of Snively’s young career after he recorded two goals and an assist against the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 10, 2022. The 27-year-old opened the season with the Capitals but spent most of the time as a healthy scratch before being pushed through waivers when Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson returned.
But after Hurricanes left wing Stefan Noesen beat Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper for a power-play goal midway through the second, neither team was able to score again. Trevor van Riemsdyk appeared to have the equalizer goal in the third, but Carolina head coach Rod Brind'Amour won the challenge for goalie interference.
Games between the Capitals and Hurricanes have grown tense over the last few seasons and this contest was no different. Tuesday’s matchup was only the appetizer, however, as the two teams will face off again Saturday for the 2023 Stadium Series game at NC State’s Carter-Finley Stadium. Ovechkin isn’t expected to return in time for the game.
The Capitals have one more game against the Florida Panthers on Thursday before they turn their attention back to Carolina.