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Capitals' nine-game win streak ended by Hurricanes

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The Carolina Hurricanes ended the Washington Capitals' nine-game winning streak with a 4-2 victory at PNC Arena on Thursday.

Carolina captain Eric Staal scored 51 seconds into the third period to break a 1-1 tie, and Jeff Skinner scored 4:25 later. Rookie forward Phillip Di Giuseppe scored in the second period, and Eddie Lack made 30 saves for the Hurricanes (16-17-5).

The victory provided some revenge for the Hurricanes, who lost 2-1 to the Capitals at home 10 days earlier.

"We play these guys a lot," center Jordan Staal told the Hurricanes website, "and it's nice to get on the other side of it, get rewarded for the way we've been working.

"They're a very good team. It's always a battle against them. They're playing some really good hockey, but we figured they were due for one and we're glad we took advantage of it."

Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin scored, and backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 33 saves for the Capitals (28-7-2), who had allowed 13 goals in their nine wins since a 5-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Dec.10.

"I would say in the first two-and-a-half periods that we weren't there," Backstrom told Monumental Network. "[Grubauer] kept us in. He was great tonight.

"In the last 10 minutes, we gave it a try. We got to 3-2 and we were close [to getting the tying goal], but you shouldn't win when you play like this."

Staal was credited with his eighth goal after a video review showed his one-timer from the slot completely crossed the goal line after Grubauer got a piece of his shot.

Skinner gave Carolina a two-goal lead at 5:16 of the third period when he converted a cross-crease feed from Riley Nash, who forced a turnover behind the Capitals net, for his 15th goal. That became the game-winner when Ovechkin beat Lack from the right circle with 5:44 remaining for his Capitals-leading 21st goal.

Andrej Nestrasil shot the puck the length of the ice into an empty net with 17.8 seconds remaining.

"[Washington] had a real good push in the third, and I liked how our guys handled it," Carolina coach Bill Peters said.

The Hurricanes are 8-4-1 in their past 13 games, and Peters is pleased with what he's been seeing from them considering little was expected this season.

"We're going in the right direction. I like the process," he said. "We generated some quantity and some quality tonight."

The Hurricanes opened the scoring 7:48 into the second period. Di Giuseppe capped a 3-on-2 rush when he one-timed Joakim Nordstrom's pass from the left-wing boards to the slot past Grubauer for his third of the season.

Backstrom tied the game at 9:49. He took a pass from defenseman Karl Alzner in his own zone, eased his way through center ice during a Carolina line change and worked his way into the high slot before snapping a screened shot that beat Lack cleanly. It was the 11th goal for Backstrom, who played one night after leaving Washington's 5-2 home victory against the Buffalo Sabres with an upper-body injury.

Lack kept the Capitals from taking the lead when he stopped Brooks Laich twice from the slot with 4:41 remaining in the period.

"Eddie was good when we needed him to be good," Peters said.

It was the first win at PNC Arena this season for Lack, who was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks in June.

"My dad's in town, and it was fun getting [the win] in front of him," said Lack, who is 4-0-1 in his past five decisions. "[Washington] played yesterday, so we felt that if we just kept working hard, we're going to get the results our way."

Carolina had the better chances during a scoreless first period. Grubauer stopped rookie defenseman Jaccob Slavin on a 2-on-1 rush and again on the rebound 8:34 into the game, and Jordan Staal hit the crossbar on a power-play one-timer from the left circle with a little more than three minutes remaining.

Washington coach Barry Trotz felt the Capitals weren't at their best on the second night of a back-to-back.

"We were a little sloppy," he said. "I thought our energy level wasn't really great. They were sharper. The biggest disappointment from our standpoint was that we got a really good goaltending performance from Grubauer and we sort of wasted that.

"We had a good push at the end, but overall we were way too loose ��������� our battles weren't as strong as they needed to be, until the end push. We had a couple of passengers today."

The Capitals continue their five-game road trip at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, the same night the Hurricanes host the Nashville Predators.

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