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game recap

Capitals win in OT, clinch playoff berth

Washington defeats Carolina, becomes first team to reach postseason

by Katie Brown / Correspondent

Ovechkin's game-winning goal

CAR@WSH: Ovechkin fires it home to win the game in OT

3/15/16: Evgeny Kuznetsov finds Alex Ovechkin, who rifles the puck home to give the Capitals a 2-1 overtime win, clinching a playoff berth

  • 01:07 •

WASHINGTON -- Alex Ovechkin scored 1:38 into overtime and the Washington Capitals became the first team in the NHL to clinch a berth in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 2-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at Verizon Center on Tuesday.

It's the fastest the Capitals have clinched a playoff spot since 2009-10. Washington has qualified for the postseason in eight of the past nine seasons.

"We know where we're at, and we knew the stats," right wing Justin Williams said. "(It's) something we're very proud of, our record so far. We've earned everything we've had so far."

They may be the first team in the NHL to secure a spot in the postseason, but the Capitals feel they still have more to prove.

"It's certainly unexpected with this many games left," Williams said. "It's a tribute to how we've played and we're proud of where we sit, but not proud enough to rest on our laurels. We're pushing forward and you'll see how good we can be."

The Capitals have 12 games remaining and lead the NHL with 105 points. Williams said there's still more work to be done.

Video: CAR@WSH: Chimera feeds Williams to give Caps the lead

"You got to keep getting better," Williams said. "These last 10, 12 games are important against teams that are battling for playoff position or their playoff lives. Yes we're in the playoffs, but we got bigger goals than that."

Ovechkin's seventh game-winning goal and 42nd of the season ended a five-game drought. His 17 career NHL overtime goals are second most in NHL history behind Florida Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr (19).

"I think our line had plenty of chances to score," Ovechkin said. "But something was missing out there. It's nice to get a goal and especially in overtime."

The Capitals are 26-6-2 at home and have earned a point in 25 of their past 29 at Verizon Center.

Video: CAR@WSH: Holtby makes pad save to keep it scoreless

Williams scored for Washington (50-14-5) and Braden Holtby made 25 saves in his 42nd win of the season, a career-high. Holtby passed Olaf Kolzig to set a Capitals single-season record for wins.

"Obviously it shows the season we're having here as a team," Holtby said. "That's good. It shows consistency in what we're doing. It's a little thing along the way that you forget about pretty quickly as we're moving on to bigger things."

Forward Jordan Staal scored and Eddie Lack made 29 saves for Carolina (31-27-12).

Williams opened the scoring at 1:30 of the second period when he redirected Jason Chimera's shot from the boards in front of Lack for his 21st goal of the season. He has four points in his past four games.

Video: CAR@WSH: Chimera feeds Williams to give Caps the lead

The Capitals are 30-2-0 this season when scoring first.

"We always get fired up when we get a goal, but there's no relief, like, 'Oh OK, there it is,'" forward Jay Beagle said. "It's not really on our mind. We just want the start, and we obviously are going after the first goal in every game we play. But you score and then you've just got to keep that momentum going."

Staal tied the game at 10:50 of the second period. Staal got a shot off as he worked his way from the right circle to the left and scored on the rebound from the hash marks.

"I thought the young D did a great job and I thought our forwards competed very hard," Carolina coach Bill Peters said.

The NHL's Situation Room initiated a review under the terms of a Coach's Challenge to review whether Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov had possession and control of the puck when Washington entered the attacking zone prior to Ovechkin's goal. It was ruled a legal play.

"We probably still should be out there in some form or fashion maybe overtime or maybe a shootout, I don't know," Peters said. "We'll see what the League says [Wednesday]."

Video: Ovechkin wins it in OT, Capitals clinch playoff berth

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