Hurricanes 4, Capitals 3

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WASHINGTON – Justin Williams scored two of Carolina’s franchise-record three short-handed goals, and the Hurricanes moved into a first-place tie atop the Eastern Conference with a 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals on Friday night.

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.

Ovechkin has 48 goals and 51 assists, and is one point away 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 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.

Notes: Carolina D Aaron Ward left the game and didn’t return after taking a hit late in the second period. … Carolina won five of the eight games in the season series with the Capitals. … Ottawa scored three short-handed goals at Pittsburgh on Feb. 2. … The Los Angeles Kings hold the record for the shortest gap between short-handed goals, netting two in 15 seconds on March 19, 2001.

AP-ES-04-07-06 2200EDT

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