The 23-year-old rookie had just one shot in three previous exhibition games, but his five-point night snapped Carolina's four-game losing streak. The Hurricanes scored just five goals during the skid.
The Hurricanes were near the bottom of the exhibition statistics in power-play goals, but got three with the two-man advantage against the Capitals, including Willis' third goal 13 minutes into the game.
Willis opened the scoring 1:17 in when his high wrist shot beat Craig Billington, who will get the bulk of the play in goal until Vezina Trophy winner Olaf Kolzig returns from knee surgery.
Ron Francis set up Willis' second goal with a feed through the goal crease midway through the first before Washington closed to 2-1 on Jeff Halpern's goal.
Willis made it 3-1 two minutes later, getting four of Carolina's seven first-period shots.
Washington closed to 3-2 43 seconds into the second on Peter Bondra's goal, but Willis set up Rod Brind'Amour and Francis 35 seconds apart as Carolina built a three-goal advantage.
Craig Berube closed out the second-period scoring for Washington, beating Arturs Irbe between the legs.
Carolina will open its regular season Oct. 7 at home against Washington.
1st 2nd 3rd TOTAL
Washington 1 2 0 3
Carolina 3 2 1 6
First Period: Scoring: 1, Carolina, Willis 1 (Brindamour, T Westlund), 1:17. 2, Carolina, Willis 2 (power play) (Francis, Kapanen), 9:45. 3, Washington, Halpern 3 (Zednik), 10:57. 4, Carolina, Willis 3 (power play) (Kapanen, Ozolinsh), 15:04. Penalties: J Daniels, Car (hooking), 6:51; Witt, Was (tripping), 9:09; Halpern, Was (interference), 11:48; Zettler, Was (hooking), 11:48; Sacco, Was (interference), 14:20; Langdon, Car (slashing, hooking), 18:39.
Second Period: Scoring: 5, Washington, Bondra 1 (Witt, C Johansson), 0:43. 6, Carolina, Brindamour 1 (power play) (Willis, Hatcher), 4:08. 7, Carolina, Francis 1 (power play) (Willis, Hatcher), 4:43. 8, Washington, Berube 1 (Zednik), 12:02. Penalties: Farrell, Was (hooking), 0:31; C Johansson, Was (hooking), 4:00; J Murphy, Was (cross checking), 4:00; Washington bench, served by Berube (unsportsmanlike conduct), 4:00; Dimaio, Car (roughing), 7:12; Gelinas, Car (slashing), 7:35; Karpa, Car (cross checking), 8:16; Sutherby, Was (hooking), 19:46.
Third Period: Scoring: 9, Carolina, Battaglia 2 (Dimaio, Vasicek), 6:04. Penalties: Nikolishin, Was (tripping), 7:36; J Murphy, Was (high sticking), 11:17; Brindamour, Car (holding), 15:03; Brindamour, Car (slashing, unsportsmanlike conduct), 17:21; Bulis, Was (interference), 18:35; C Johansson, Was (interference), 19:06.
SHOTS ON GOAL
Washington 3 12 7 --22
Carolina 7 7 6 --20
Power-play Conversions: Was - 0 of 7, Car - 4 of 8. Goalies: Washington, Billington (20 shots, 14 saves; record: 1-1-0). Carolina, Irbe (22, 19; record: 2-1-0). A:00,000. Referees: Hasenfratz, Roberts. Linesmen: Champoux, Orourke.
CAROLINA VS. WASHINGTON QUOTES
SEPT. 27, 2000
CAROLINA HEAD COACH PAUL MAURICE:
“He knew he needed to make the most of this opportunity going into the game and he did that. That really gives us another option. Got some young guys in there and we need them to perform and help push this team. They did a good job tonight.”
On how it helps Willis’ confidence:
“I think it’s real important for him. Had he gone through the exhibitions without scoring, that would have been on his mind and he’s got that out of his mind now. The more we can get Shane Willis to shoot the puck the happier we’re going to be with his hockey game and the longer he would go without scoring the more apt he would be to pass. He now has the confidence. And it’s not just him, it’s the people that play with him who will encourage him to shoot the puck more.”
On Hurricanes penalty killing:
“Very strong. It’s nice to k now that Marty Gelinas can do a great job on a penalty kill like he did tonight. With the whole idea of us going to a speed format he fits more into that. With players like DiMaio and obviously Rod Brind’Amour and Westlund and Daniels and Craig Adams played penalties tonight and you always know you’ve got Ron Francis in reserve. We would prefer not to have to use Ronny on the penalty kill this year and let him concentrate on his power play time. Now we have enough bodies that we feel comfortable that we can do it.”
WASHINGTON HEAD COACH RON WILSON:
“It was 5-on-3-itus. We’ve already had ten against us. If you were to play 82 games, how many times do you see two penalties called against your team at one time? A couple times? That’s like the 5th time that’s happened so far. We’ve just got to show more discipline and come to terms with the way the games are going to be officiated.
“Well they’re going to crack down. You just have to make adjustments. We didn’t. There used to be the idea of a free shot if you were getting it on a delayed penalty but that’s no more. I agree with it, but I don’t necessarily agree with all of the calls here tonight.”