NHL Game Summary - Washington at Carolina
(Sunday, December 7th)
Final Score: Carolina 3, Washington 1
Raleigh, NC (Sports Network) - Ray Whitney scored twice, as the Carolina Hurricanes downed the Washington Capitals, 3-1, in a Southeast Division battle at RBC Center.
Eric Staal scored the game-winning goal, while Michael Leighton stopped 38 shots for the Hurricanes, who snapped a three-game skid.
Carolina coach Paul Maurice got his first win in his second stint with Carolina as he took over for Peter Laviolette on Wednesday and had lost his previous two games.
"This hockey club has had an emotional week," said Maurice. "It's had a lot going on around it. We've had a lot of guys going down. The most dangerous job in America is playing defense for the Carolina Hurricanes right now. We got guys dropping all over. They found a way to do it, they took hits, they got banged up, they got beat up and I'm really impressed with the bench and the resilience on the bench in a game where clearly possession wasn't in their favor. But they handled the puck, they showed a lot of character."
Nicklas Backstrom scored the lone goal for Washington, while Jose Theodore gave up three goals on 25 shots for the Capitals, who have dropped three of their last five.
"He played great," said Washington coach Bruce Boudreau about Leighton. "We knew it was going to be very difficult to beat him. We thought if we could get one by him and push it into overtime, we'd be fine. We got to continue to play. It'd be pretty obvious to say we had the better of the play, but I mean we can't get a goal and say 'OK, now we've tied it' when there's over five minutes to go in the game. It's a disheartening game in the end."
With the score tied late in the third, Carolina took the lead, as Sergei Samsonov fought off a checker behind the net and got the puck to Staal, who stuffed home a backhander for a 2-1 lead with 4:09 to play.
A bit over two minutes later, a shot from the right point was stopped by Theodore, but the rebound wound up in the slot and, with several players battling for the disc, Whitney dug it out and fired the puck into the net to seal the win.
Carolina got on the board in the first period, as Joni Pitkanen fired a shot from the left point that Theodore stopped, but a big rebound was swept into the net by Whitney for a 1-0 lead with 6:42 left in the first.
Leighton stopped 11 shots in the first period to keep Washington off the board.
In the closing moments of the second period, with Carolina on the breakaway, Ovechkin was hauled down on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot. However, Leighton stood tall and stopped Ovechkin's low shot to keep the 1-0 lead heading into the third period.
In all, Leighton made 16 saves in the second period, while Theodore stopped all nine shots he faced.
Washington had a 5-on-3 power play in the third period and scored shortly after the first penalty expired. Washington worked the puck around the perimeter, and Ovechkin fired a pass from the top of the left circle to the low right side, where Backstrom fired a one-timer into the net at the 8:28 mark.
Ovechkin is 0-for-5 in his career on penalty shots...Carolina wraps up its season series with the Flyers on Thursday in Philadelphia...Washington had won four straight against Carolina coming into the game...Washington hosts Boston on Wednesday...Carolina had given up the first goal in its previous 12 games...Carolina defenseman Anton Babchuk left the game in the third period with an upper body injury.
12/07 20:25:16 ET