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Hurricanes 4, Capitals 3 @NHLdotcom

WASHINGTON (AP) - If the Carolina Hurricanes have scoring chances they are going to attack the net, even if they down a man.

That aggressive play paid off Friday night as Carolina scored a franchise-record three short-handed goals - including two from Justin Williams - and moved into a first-place tie atop the Eastern Conference with a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals.

"We don't pride ourselves on trying to score with a man short, but if we have odd-man rushes, like we did tonight, we're all for it," Williams said. "Tonight was just a situation where opportunity knocks."

Alexander Ovechkin had an assist to reach 99 points in his rookie season, but it wasn't enough to help the Capitals, whose late rally fell short.

Kevyn Adams added Carolina's other short-handed tally, and Eric Staal scored his 44th goal of the season during a second-period power play for the Hurricanes, who lead the Eastern Conference with 51 wins. Carolina is tied with Ottawa for first place with 108 points.

It was the third straight game between the Southeast Division rivals and the fifth matchup in 14 days. Carolina won all three this week - including an overtime victory and a shootout win - after dropping the two other meetings to Washington at the end of March.

"It's kind of like (Washington's) playoffs, and they play hard," Williams said. "They're a team that is going to scratch and claw and never give up."

Ovechkin has 48 goals and 51 assists, and is one point from becoming the sixth NHL rookie to ever post 100. Teemu Selanne, during the 1992-93 season, is the only first-year player to reach the mark while also scoring 50 goals. Ovechkin, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft, will have a chance to hit both milestones Saturday night at the New York Islanders.

The Hurricanes were trailing 1-0 in the second period and down a man when Adams deflected in a shot by Frantisek Kaberle at 3:47. Just 19 seconds later, Williams intercepted a Capitals pass and scored on a breakaway to make it 2-1.

It was the second time in franchise history that Carolina scored two short-handed goals on one opposing power play. Dave Tippett and Dean Evason did it on Feb. 10, 1990, when the franchise was known as the Hartford Whalers.

Washington was on another power play 44 seconds into the third period when Williams scored again, this time off a pass from Rod Brind'Amour.

Jeff Halpern gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead with help from Dainius Zubrus and Ovechkin. Washington didn't score again until the frantic final minutes when Shaone Morrisonn scored his first goal of the season with 2:52 remaining. Brian Willsie got Washington within 4-3 by scoring his 17th goal with 1:32 left.

Otherwise, Hurricanes rookie goalie Cam Ward was sharp and made a career-high 39 saves.

"I went back to my old self, just being calm and just relaxing out there," Ward said.

Notes: Carolina D Aaron Ward left the game and didn't return after taking a knee-on-knee hit from Ivan Majesky late in the second period. ... Kaberle left late in the game after cutting his forehead in a collision with the boards. He received more than a dozen stitches. ... Carolina won five of the eight games in the season series with the Capitals. ... The Los Angeles Kings hold the record for the shortest gap between short-handed goals, netting two in 15 seconds on March 19, 2001.

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