WASHINGTON — 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 NHLs 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 theyre 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
They dug down, Muller said. It wasnt 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 Gerbes third of the season and another score for the Jordan Staal line that has been so productive in the early season.
Its fun to watch, Eric Staal said of Gerbe. Hes 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 Chimeras goal a soft wrister that fooled Khudobin.
He let a soft one in but his composure, it didnt 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 wasnt a hard shot and I didnt see it from the start. But its my goal, a five-hole goal.
Lindholms 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.
Its probably not the first NHL goal you dream of, but it still counts, Lindholm said.
The Caps, beginning a five-game homestand, didnt wait long to retake the lead. Alexander Ovechkin tipped a shot and the puck took a wicked bounce to Khudobins right and into the net. It was Ovechkins fifth of the season and had the crowd roaring just 54 seconds after Lindholms 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 NHLs best power play and had their chances, but the Canes penalty killing was flawless.
Its a battle when you play these guys, Eric Staal said. You remember the moments where they got the best of you and we dont want that to be the case anymore.
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