Hurricanes get a hard-fought 3-2 win over Capitals

calexander@newsobserver.comOctober 10, 2013 

— The name of their division may have changed, but games between the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals have not.

The two old Southeast Division rivals, now members of the NHL’s new Metropolitan Division, fiercely went at it Thursday at the Verizon Center. The Hurricanes emerged with a 3-2 victory, getting the winning goal from Nathan Gerbe almost seven minutes into the third period and a strong, determined game in net from goaltender Anton Khudobin.

“Our guys really competed hard and were focused,” Canes coach Kirk Muller said. “They just played the game the right way. It started with all our leaders and I think filtered through our whole lineup. We had no passengers tonight at all.

“It was a divisional game and we had some young guys in our lineup. We said these are the ones where you really have to reach down and give a little extra because they’re going to be a little more intense.”

The Hurricanes used second-period goals from rookie Elias Lindholm and Alexander Semin to force a 2-2 tie after two periods. When Gerbe struck in the third, the Canes (2-1-1) had their first lead, 3-2.

“They dug down,” Muller said. “It wasn’t easy but they stayed with it.”

Gerbe ever feisty, again was relentless around the net, fighting past fallen defenseman John Erskine to knock the puck past Caps goalie Braden Holtby. It was Gerbe’s third of the season and another score for the Jordan Staal line that has been so productive in the early season.

“It’s fun to watch,” Eric Staal said of Gerbe. “He’s got the offensive talent to make some good, skilled plays.”

Things were tense at the end for the Canes. The Caps (1-3-0) pulled Holtby for an extra attacker in the final two minutes and then the Canes’ Jordan Staal was called for delay of game. But the shorthanded Canes held on for the win.

Khudobin was making made his second start of the season and again was sound and solid for the Canes. Khudobin Khudobn was the winner when the Canes topped the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 Sunday, but faced just 18 shots in that game from the struggling Flyers.

The Hurricanes came into Washington off a 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. And The Caps had dominated the series in recent years, especially in Washington, going 7-1-2 in on the 10 previous games at the Verizon Center before Thursday.

Washington led 1-0 after the opening period on Jason Chimera’s goal – a soft wrister that fooled Khudobin.

“He let a soft one in but his composure, it didn’t affect him,” Muller said. “He looked really confident in ther there.”

Khudobin shrugged off the Chimera goal as well.

“Sometimes it happens,” he said. “It wasn’t a hard shot and I didn’t see it from the start. But it’s my goal, a five-hole goal.”

Lindholm’s first NHL goal will be memorable for the Swedish forward, the fifth overall pick of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Lindholm winged a shot from the slot, the puck nicking the skate of Caps defenseman John Carlson and eluding Holtby for a 1-1 tie almost 13 minutes into the second.

“It’s probably not the first NHL goal you dream of, but it still counts,” Lindholm said.

The Caps, beginning a five-game homestand, didn’t wait long to retake the lead. Alexander Ovechkin tipped a shot and the puck took a wicked bounce to Khudobin’s right and into the net. It was Ovechkin’s fifth of the season and had the crowd roaring just 54 seconds after Lindholm’s score.

But Semin then struck on a 5-on-3 power play. After the Caps’ Joel Ward was called for delay of game for smothering the puck and then Erskine for interference, Semin unloaded from the left circle for his first of the season.

Khudobin finished with 30 saves while earning his second win of the season. He perhaps made the decision tougher for Muller when it comes to which goalie to start Friday when the Canes face the Los Angeles Kings at PNC Arena, Khudobin or Cam Ward.

Khudobin also credited the hard work done in front of him. Defenseman Justin Faulk played more than 28 minutes, and the Canes blocked 11 shots.

The Caps entered the game with the NHL’s best power play and had their chances, but the Canes’ penalty killing was flawless.

“It’s a battle when you play these guys,” Eric Staal said. “You remember the moments where they got the best of you and we don’t want that to be the case anymore.”

Alexander: 919-829-8945 Twitter: @ice_chip

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service