RALEIGH, N.C. – For a change, Eric Staal decided to share.

The Carolina center added his first three assists to his fifth goal of the season and captain Rod Brind’Amour scored his first of the year, helping the Hurricanes beat the Washington Capitals 7-2 on Wednesday night.

“The way I’m playing right now, I’m coming with a lot of speed, the puck’s flying for me and I’m going to keep it going as long as I can,” Staal said.

The Hurricanes finally found some success on the power play, as Staal, Brind’Amour and Matt Cullen scored with a man advantage. They were 0-for-15 in the previous three games, a drought that stretched to 17 before Staal snapped it.

“We had been doing some good things on the power play, and when you don’t see the results, it can be frustrating,” Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. “Again, we got it in, moved it around, had scoring chances, got to the front of the net, rebounds, and that’s what you need to do.”

Bret Hedican, Erik Cole, Justin Williams and Niklas Nordgren also scored for Carolina, which bounced back from a sloppy first period to hand the Capitals their third lopsided loss in four games.

Washington was outscored 15-4 in consecutive losses to the Atlanta Thrashers before beating the New York Rangers 3-2 earlier in the week.

“I thought our guys played hard and we’re proud of them,” Washington coach Glen Hanlon said. “We played right through to the end. We’re a physical team, and we’re going to make teams pay the price.”

At least one of his players disagreed.

“I think it’s a willingness to work,” defenseman Brendan Witt said. “I think our work ethic is not very good in the third. And you can see that in the games. But it might also be a learning experience with the younger guys. As veterans, we need to pass on that knowledge.”

Rookie Alex Ovechkin scored his fourth goal to give the Caps a 1-0 lead and Dainius Zubrus later got credit for Niclas Wallin’s own-goal to make it 2-1 early in the second.

But Carolina took over from there. Staal tied it by taking the puck away from Bryan Muir and Brian Sutherby, then shot it past goaltender Olaf Kolzig to make it 2-2.

“Right now, when he gets the puck, he’s tough to handle,” Laviolette said.

Near the end of the period, Staal again skated through Washington’s zone and waited patiently for a streaking Hedican. The pass found Hedican in stride, and he easily beat Kolzig to give the Hurricanes the lead for good.

They poured it on from there, allowing only two shots in the final period while taking 21. That led to four goals to finish off Kolzig, and rookie goaltender Cam Ward was the beneficiary.

“Any time your team produces, it makes it a lot easier on me, eases the pressure a bit,” Ward said. “We know we have the skill to score a bunch of goals.”

Ward improved to 2-1 in three starts, holding it together when Washington dominated the first period. The 21-year-old finished with 26 saves and survived another colossal mistake by a teammate.

In a loss last week to the New York Islanders, defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky accidentally put the puck past Ward while trying to clear it, and Wallin again gave away a goal. It appeared he was trying to pass to Ward, only the goalie had left his post during a delayed penalty on the Capitals to give Carolina an extra skater.

The puck went right in the middle of the net to give Washington the lead. Zubrus was the last Washington player to touch it, so he got credit.

“As bad as that second goal was, it was like it woke us up,” Ward said.

Notes: Washington captain C Jeff Halpern sat out to observe the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. … Cole left the ice in the third period after taking a stick to the face, but returned. … After a sellout crowd of 22,120 turned out for the home opener, Carolina had 10,968 in the seats for the second date at the RBC Center.

AP-ES-10-12-05 2217EDT

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