A back and forth contest ended in a 4-3 shootout win for the Caps over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.
How it happened: Jeff Skinner put Carolina on the board less than six minutes into the game as he positioned himself in behind Matt Niskanen and right in front of Philipp Grubauer. Derek Ryan got him the puck and he was able to tip it in. Alex Ovechkin responded in the second period with a beautiful snapshot to beat Cam Ward after John Carlson launched the quick breakout to Nicklas Backstrom. A Justin Williams deflection gave the Caps the lead later in the second, but Justin Faulk tied the game just 2:18 later to finish off a 2-on-1 off a bad turnover from Backstrom.
Backstrom took an early holding call in the third period and Teuvo Teravainen took advantage with a deflection through the five-hole of Grubauer. T.J. Oshie would tie it up to force overtime as he deflected down a shot from Dmitry Orlov past Ward.
The game would go on to a shootout where Oshie, Mr. Automatic, and Evgeny Kuznetsov would both score to give the Caps the win.
What it means: The win extends the Caps' win streak to six games, their longest streak of the season. Washington is now 4-5-2 within the Metropolitan Division. They are now 17-0-0 when scoring three or more goals this season.
Turning point: Carolina was not setting on their heels playing prevent defense after taking the 3-2 lead in the third period. They were in control of the play and taking it to Washington. That all changed with Oshie's goal, his 10th of the season oand second since returning from a shoulder injury five games ago.
Power play points: The Hurricanes came into Friday’s game with the top-ranked penalty kill in the NHL at 92.3 percent. They had not allowed a power play goal in the month of December, a stretch of seven games. The Caps ended that streak on Friday with Ovechkin's second-period tally. Washington scored one goal on their two opportunities of the game. Carolina, meanwhile, went 1 for 6 on the man advantage. The one goal proved crucial as it gave Carolina the lead in the third period.
More help for Grubauer: Grubauer has posted a 5-1-1 record this season. Both regulation losses have come in Carolina. The last time these two teams met was Nov. 12 and Grubauer was held out to dry as Washington allowed 38 shots and fell 5-1. Friday's game did not start much better. Grubauer saved 27 of the 30 shots he faced on the night and kept the game within reach for the Caps early after a sleepy start from Washington. He also stood tall in his first shootout of the season, without allowing either of Carolina's opportunities to beat him.
Hot streaks: Kuznetsov extended his point streak to six games with an assist. In that stretch, he has eight points after managing only nine points in the first 23 games of the season. Ovechkin's goal was his second in three games. This after a seven-game goal drought. Williams has also put his offensive drought behind him with yet another goal. He is the team's hottest scorer with five goals in his past five games.
Look ahead: The Caps have a quick turnaround as they host the Montreal Canadiens Saturday at Verizon Center. Then they take their first trip to Philadelphia to face the red-hot Flyers on Wednesday and return home to host Tampa Bay in the last game before the winter break.