The Carolina Hurricanes, with new owner Tom Dundon in the house Friday, were looking for a two-game sweep of the Washington Capitals to please the new boss.
The Caps wouldn’t let it happen, beating the Canes 4-3 on Jay Beagle’s goal with 1.3 seconds remaining in regulation. Nicklas Backstrom swiped the puck from Canes forward Brock McGinn and found Beagle open for the score, handing the Canes what had to be a brutal loss.
“They all feel similar to me,” Canes coach Bill Peters said. “It’s a loss, no points.”
The Canes topped the Caps 3-1 in Washington on Thursday, the day Dundon’s deal to buy the Hurricanes was finalized. They returned to PNC Arena on Friday to finish the back-to-back on the day of Dundon’s introductory press conference at the arena.
Jeff Skinner’s third-period goal gave the Canes a 3-2 lead, scoring his 14th of the season on a perfectly placed shot that beat goalie Philipp Grubauer. Forward Lee Stempniak, playing his first game of the season, assisted on the Skinner score.
But the Caps (28-14-3) tied it 3-3 at 16:52 of the third when Brett Connolly scored after Canes defenseman Noah Hanifin made a sloppy pass in the defensive zone that Connolly picked off.
Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho each had power-play goals for the Canes, who have a game left Sunday against the Calgary Flames before taking their mandated five-day break.
Steal was bloodied by a high stick from the Caps’ Evgeny Kuznetsov with 32 seconds remaining in regulation, but there was no call. It would have been a four-minute double minor that would have carried over into overtime had the Canes not scored in regulation.
"It was a stick in the face in front of (the ref) and he chose not to call it,” Staal said.
Staal said there was no explanation from the ref, saying, "He didn't want to talk to me tonight."
Lars Eller had a first-period goal and Alex Ovechkin a second-period score for the Caps, the Metropolitan Division leaders.
The Canes (20-16-8) had the fans roaring early with their first power-play goal — and a textbook one, at that.
Steal won a faceoff, Aho got the puck low to Justin Williams and Williams promptly found Staal in front for the score. It was Staal’s 200th career goal, making him the fourth player from the 2006 NHL draft class to reach that milestone.
The Canes’ second-power play goal, in the second period, was scored as quickly as the first. Aho was open at the top of the slot and unloaded a shot that Grubauer couldn’t track as the Canes tied the score 1-1.
No one has a bigger blast than Ovechkin and it was his second-period goal — his 28th of the season — that gave the Caps a 2-1 lead.
Ellen was credited with the Caps’ first goal of the night after a wild scramble in front of the Canes net that had Eller tangled up on the ice with goalie Cam Ward.
Peters challenged the goal, claiming goaltender interference, but the Caps won the ruling after a lengthy review.
The Canes played without defenseman Brett Pesce, who was placed Friday on injured reserve, and forward Derek Ryan, injured in Thursday’s game in Washington. Elias Lindholm and Joakim Nordstrom were held out of the game because of illness.
Returning to the lineup was Stempniak, who missed the Canes’ first 43 games with various injuries. Stempniak played on a line with center Lucas Wallmark and Skinner and was effective.