Carolina at Washington

Hurricanes earn big SO win to stay in playoff picture

CBSSports.com wire reports
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WASHINGTON -- The Carolina Hurricanes went into the third period Tuesday down a goal, with their playoff hopes on the line.

Then Jeff Skinner found the net, and the Hurricanes ended up with a win and a much smaller gap between them and the playoffs.

Eastern Conference
SeedTeamGPPTSROW
1z-Pittsburgh487233
2y-Montreal486326
3y-Washington485724
4x-Boston486224
5x-Toronto485726
6x-N.Y. Rangers485622
7x-Ottawa485621
8x-N.Y. Islanders485520
Eliminated
9o-Winnipeg485122
10o-Philadelphia484922
11o-New Jersey484817
12o-Buffalo484814
13o-Carolina484218
14o-Tampa Bay484017
15o-Florida483612
Complete Playoff Race >>

Skinner tied the game early in the third quarter with a little luck, then scored in the shootout with a lot of skill to lead the Hurricanes to a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals.

Carolina entered the game ninth in the Eastern Conference, five points behind Buffalo for the final playoff spot. With the shootout win and the Sabres' 4-3 loss at Toronto Tuesday night, Carolina pulled two points closer.

"We got a little help, now we go back at it," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said. "We go home with some emotion and some excitement now, and feeling good about being right back in it."

Skinner evened the score at 2-all less than two minutes into the third period, when his seemingly innocuous shot knuckled past Washington goalie Semyon Varlamov.

"I was just trying to get it on net," Skinner said. "There was just a little bit of space there so I just took it in and tried to put it on net, and luckily it went in."

His coach was willing to give Skinner a bit more benefit of the doubt.

"This Skinner kid's a pretty special shooter," Maurice said. "So before I qualify that shot as not real strong -- he's put enough by goalies from strange angles, that now you just accept it and say maybe he saw it."

Carolina held on the rest of the third period and overtime to force the shootout. Skinner opened the shootout with a goal, and Tuomo Ruutu converted the deciding attempt after Washington's Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom were stopped by Carolina goalie Cam Ward, who had 38 saves.

"I think we were a much better team in the third period, and I think we deserved two points tonight," said Jussi Jokinen, who scored Carolina's first goal.

Alexander Semin scored his 27th goal and had an assist, and Marcus Johansson also scored for Washington, which ended a five-game home winning streak. The Capitals had won the previous five meetings between the teams this season.

Ovechkin was back in the lineup after missing three games due to an undisclosed injury. Ovechkin hadn't played since March 18 due to what Washington coach Bruce Boudreau termed a "nagging ailment."

"It was pretty hard when you come back after three games sitting out," Ovechkin said. "But every shift, every period I felt better and better."

Ovechkin made his presence felt right away for the Capitals, getting the team's first shot on a backhanded attempt in the opening minute. He didn't shy away from contact throughout the game, getting several hard hits in on the Hurricanes.

"I think it was like a playoff game, for them," Ovechkin said. "For us, it is good when we play against those kinds of teams, to prepare us for the playoffs."

Washington has its playoff spot locked up. The Capitals hold the second place in the Eastern Conference and entered the day seven points ahead of Tampa Bay for the Southeast Division lead.

"We have to be able to compete and beat any team that's going to come hard, because everyone is going to be fighting for their lives in the playoffs," Washington defenseman John Carlson said. "I feel like at some points in the game we were just coasting a bit instead of pushing the envelope and that's what bit us in the end."

Carolina opened the scoring on Jokinen's power-play goal at 2:29 in the second period. Joe Corvo set up the goal with a pass from behind the net, and Jokinen poked it in.

The Hurricanes had a chance to extend their lead when Chad LaRose was awarded a penalty shot after being held up by Dennis Wideman on a short-handed breakaway. Varlamov came out to contest the penalty attempt and poked away the puck with his stick for the save.

Washington tied the game at 14:18 in the second period, when Semin threaded a tight-angle shot from below the right circle over Ward's shoulder.

A little more than three minutes later, Johansson got behind the Hurricanes' defense after a pass from Semin and made a move on Ward for his 13th goal of the season.

After the game, Boudreau said his team lacked emotion at times, but he didn't believe the Capitals could afford to coast through the final stretch of the regular season.

"We still have a lot to play for," Boudreau said. "We're not, by any stretch or means, taking a vacation until the playoffs."

Notes

  • Washington is 11-2-1 in March.
  • Carolina D Joni Pitkanen returned after missing one game due to illness.
  • Capitals C Jason Arnott also returned after missing six games with a lower body injury.
  • Wideman gingerly skated off the ice with about five minutes left in the second period after taking a hard hit from Ruutu. He did not return. "He's OK," Boudreau said after the game. "It's day-to-day right now."
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Tuomo Ruutu goes backhand on goalie Semyon Varlamov for what is the deciding goal in the shootout. (Getty Images)
Tuomo Ruutu goes backhand on goalie Semyon Varlamov for what is the deciding goal in the shootout. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
Carolina  (36-30-10) «01101 (2)3
Washington (44-22-11)02000 (0)2
Three Stars
C. Ward
CAR


Saves: 38
Save Pct.: .950
J. Skinner
CAR


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
A. Semin
WAS


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
None
2ND PERIOD
02:29Power Play - Jussi Jokinen (17), Slap Shot. Assist: Corvo, Ruutu
14:18 - Alexander Semin (27), Wrist Shot. Assist: Laich
17:35 - Marcus Johansson (13), Wrist Shot. Assist: Semin, Carlson
3RD PERIOD
01:46 - Jeff Skinner (27), Wrist Shot. Assist: Allen
OT
None
SHOOTOUT
  - Jeff Skinner (4), GOAL
  - Tuomo Ruutu (1), GOAL
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
08:23Arnott, 2 min, Roughing
08:23Allen, 2 min, Roughing
08:56Laich, 2 min, Interference
11:39LaRose, 2 min, Boarding
14:34Cole, 2 min, Hooking
18:05Hannan, 2 min, Interference
2ND PERIOD
01:06Backstrom, 2 min, Tripping
02:41Erskine, 2 min, Roughing
11:03McBain, 2 min, Slashing
3RD PERIOD
16:41Semin, 2 min, Hooking
OT
None
SHOOTOUT
None
Shots On Goal
 123T
CAR119626
WAS1612735
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGASO SSO GA
Cam Ward 65:0038220
Semyon Varlamov 64:4724232
Game Information
Attendance - 18398
Referees - Kevin Pollock, Frederick L'Ecuyer
Linesmen - Derek Amell, Brian Mach
 
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Chi 0 Final
Bos 3
Fla 2 Final
Colu 3
Phi 5 Final
Pitt 2
Buf 3 Final
Tor 4
Atl 1 Final
Mon 3
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TB 5
Van 3 Final
Nash 1
Min 3 Final
StL 2
LA 2 Final
Edm 0
Dal 1 Final
Pho 2