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Capitals top Hurricanes in OT for second straight

by Damian Cristodero

WASHINGTON -- The way things have gone for the Washington Capitals lately, any win is a good win.

After a 4-3 overtime victory against the Carolina Hurricanes at Verizon Center on Saturday, none of the Capitals was complaining, even though Washington had coughed up a two-goal lead in a five-minute stretch of the third period.

"I'll take the win, any day," said Capitals goaltender Justin Peters, who made 24 saves to earn his second win of the season.

Nicklas Backstrom scored the overtime winner with 14 seconds left in the extra period when he fired in a rebound of Alex Ovechkin's slapshot following Carolina goalie Anton Khudobin's kick save.

It was the second straight victory for Washington after a five-game winless streak (0-4-1); the Capitals beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Friday.

"We're a pretty excited group right now," Capitals forward Jay Beagle said.

Washington, which improved to 6-5-3, won for the first time in four tries on home ice (1-2-1).

Still, there was something unsettling in the Capitals squandering a scintillating start in which they had a 17-3 first-period shot advantage -- the 17 shots were the most in a period for Washington this season -- and the 3-1 lead they took into the third period.

"I don't think we let down," Beagle said. "I just think we're kind of sitting back a little bit, almost playing too defensively. We're not going after them. We're not staying on them. It's kind of tough. Our confidence is a little bit lower after some losses. We really want to win, and all of a sudden you tighten up, maybe, and try to play defensive instead of going after them."

The loss snapped Carolina's four-game winning streak.

Beagle, Troy Brouwer and Eric Fehr scored for the Capitals in regulation. All three goals went in off Hurricanes.

Brouwer was credited with a goal when his shot from the slot was blocked and Carolina defenseman Patrick Dwyer, trying to clear the floating puck, inadvertently slapped it past Khudobin at 7:26 of the first period.

Beagle's goal eight-and-a-half minutes later from behind the goal line banked in off Khudobin's leg. Fehr's goal, which gave Washington a 3-1 lead with 3:12 left in the second period, deflected in off the skate of Hurricanes defenseman Brett Bellemore.

But thanks to Khudobin, who made 35 saves in regulation and overtime, the Hurricanes (4-6-3) hung around.

Eric Staal scored to make it a one-goal game at 8:38 of the third period after Jeff Skinner took the puck away from Fehr in the Carolina zone.

Elias Lindholm got credit for the tying goal with 6:07 left in regulation when Justin Faulk's point shot deflected off him and beat Peters through his legs. It was Lindholm's fifth goal, all of them coming in the past five games.

"It was a harmless shot from the point," said Peters, who played for the Hurricanes from 2009-14. "I watched it all the way. It hit a pant or something coming in and it just dived down. I thought I was there."

Late-game collapses have become all too familiar for the Capitals, who have held the lead in the second period in 13 of their 14 games but have been outscored by a combined 14-9 in the third period.

"We couldn't put them away," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "In the first period we could have been up more than a goal, that's for sure. We had some great looks and a lot of chances. … Our confidence isn't quite there, but I think we're building every game."

Backstrom made sure the Capitals continue building their confidence when he took advantage of a huge rebound off a blistering shot by Ovechkin, who got his 400th assist on the winning goal. It was Backstrom's fourth goal.

"I think I was just lucky to be in the right spot to be honest with you," Backstrom said. "You never know where it's coming. He was too far out, the goalie. That helped, too."

Khudobin wishes he had some luck on his side after he stopped Ovechkin.

"I just tried to focus on the first shot," the Carolina goalie said. "The rebound was unlucky, I would say. Sometimes, you know, it just goes there. It's just a tough loss, and I don't get the 'W' for our team."

The Capitals feel they have something to build on, and something to learn from, after wins on consecutive days.

“We got to put together 60 minutes and we’re going to be a dangerous team,” Beagle said. “We know that.”

“We were a little too passive,” Backstrom said of the third period. “We gave away the puck a little too much. We’ve got to be able to manage the puck a little better and stay aggressive as we did in the first two periods.”

Riley Nash scored for the Hurricanes in the first period. It was his fourth goal.

Capitals center Brooks Laich, who played Friday after missing seven games with a left shoulder injury, was scratched. Capitals right wing Tom Wilson left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury.

Hurricanes defenseman John-Michael Liles left the game early in overtime after an open-ice collision with a Capitals player.

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