Trailing by three goals in the third period, the Carolina Hurricanes rallied to pull within a goal of the Washington Capitals but fell just short in a 4-3 final.
Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen and Ryan Dzingel each netted goals for the Canes in the third period, while Jakub Vrana's 16th of the season held up as the game-winner for Washington.
Here are five takeaways from Friday night in Raleigh.
1. Comeback Falls Short
In front of an energized, sold-out crowd - the third straight sellout and sixth of the season at PNC Arena - the Hurricanes nearly orchestrated a dramatic third period comeback.
It would have blown the roof off the barn.
Instead, the Canes' rally fell just short in their second meeting with the Capitals in a seven-day span.
"It sucks losing still, but it is a prideful room," Jordan Staal said. "We don't like going away. We're going to fight until that horn goes. I thought the guys did a good job of pushing and fighting our way back into that game."
"We were right there. You could arguably say we could have won that game," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We kept coming at the end and had a lot of opportunities."
Though the Canes didn't come away victorious, Friday's game was another exhilarating installment in the bubbling rivalry between these two divisional opponents. The regular-season series finale, slated for Monday, Jan. 13 in Washington, should be a doozy.
"When you see a team in playoffs, usually the next year there's always a little added rivalry," Staal said. "It's always a good test when they come into this building. Our fans know it, and we know it. We came up short this time. We'll have to get them in their building."
2. You're Probably Wondering How I Ended Up in This Situation
A misstep of a period put the Hurricanes in a 2-0 hole after 40 minutes.
Richard Panik's shot bounced off Brett Pesce and in at the 2:58 mark of the second to put the Capitals up one. Just past the five-minute mark, Evegeny Kuznetsov tapped in the puck alongside the net on the power play to double the Caps' lead.
The Canes headed to the locker room having been out-shot, 14-8, and out-scored, 2-0, in the middle frame.
Video: Postgame Quotes: Jordan Staal
"Really, our second period just kind of put us in a hole. We didn't play our game in the second," Staal said. "They do a good job of when you're not on, they're going to make you pay."
"The second was not good," Brind'Amour said. "I thought our power play sucked the life out us, and then their power play got them going."
Indeed. The Canes were 0-for-4 on the power play through two periods, while the Capitals were 1-for-2.
3. A Push in the Third
Jordan Staal got the Hurricanes on the board just 39 seconds into the third period with a deflection on a Brett Pesce point shot. That cut his team's deficit to just a goal, 2-1, with plenty of hockey left to be played.
Video: WSH@CAR: Staal deflects Pesce's shot into the net
The Capitals answered back, though. First, it was Lars Eller scoring the team's second power-play goal of the night, banging in the puck after it kicked off the end boards from an Alex Ovechkin bomb. A little more than two minutes later, Jakub Vrana one-timed a cross-ice pass, and the puck trickled in past Petr Mrazek.
A two-goal deficit turned one-goal deficit turned three-goal deficit, all in the first 4:51 of the final frame of regulation.
The Canes weren't done, though.
A minute and 44 seconds after Vrana scored, Teuvo Teravainen smacked in a power-play goal to bring the Canes back within two goals.
Video: WSH@CAR: Teravainen rips one-touch shot for a PPG
Exactly six minutes later, Ryan Dzingel accepted a pass from Martin Necas and sniped a shot glove-side high on Ilya Samsonov from the slot, the team's second straight power-play marker.
Video: WSH@CAR: Dzingel brings the Huricanes closer
"[Necas] had been trying to look for me there for a while," Dzingel said. "It was a great pass by him, and we finally got one on the power play, so that was huge."
The Canes pushed and pushed and pushed but couldn't find the equalizer.
"You can't put yourself in that hole, especially in the NHL. Teams are too good," Dzingel said. "You can't get down 4-1 against the Capitals. That's the bottom line."
4. Nothing to Show From the First
The Hurricanes were the better team in the first period, but they unfortunately had nothing to show for it. Other than allowing a breakaway to Garnet Hathaway, which Mrazek turned away, it was virtually all Canes in the second half of the opening stanza. In total, the Canes put 18 shots on Samsonov, but he was the difference.
"The first period I thought was pretty good," Brind'Amour said. "We deserved better out of the first."
5. Whoa, We're Halfway There
The Hurricanes have officially arrived at the midpoint of the 2019-20 regular season. Through 41 games, the Canes have accrued 50 points and a 24-15-2 record.
Compare that to a season ago, when the Canes had a 19-17-5 record and 43 points, having just begun their massive second-half push to the playoffs.
"We need to put ourselves into a good spot heading into (All-Star) break," Dzingel said. "We've put ourselves in a decent spot so far, and we've got to keep going."
If you break the Canes' first 40 games down into 10-game segments, the team has been incredibly consistent, too: 6-3-1, 6-4-0, 6-4-0, 6-3-1. If that continues in the second half of this season - this current 10-game segment has begun at 0-1-0 - the Canes should easily make a return to the postseason.
"It's been pretty good," Brind'Amour said. "I like this group how they come to work. They don't quit. That's pretty positive. We've had some tough losses this year, but the guys seem to always dig in. That's all you can ask for as a coach."
The Canes' seven-game homestand continues on Sunday when the Tampa Bay Lightning come to town for a 5 p.m. puck drop.