RALEIGH, N.C. – Eric Staal got his fifth goal of the season and captain Rod Brind’Amour scored his first, helping the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Washington Capitals 7-2 on Wednesday night.

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.

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. Staal also got his first three assists of the season.

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

On Wednesday, 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.

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 16. That led to four goals to finish off Kolzig, and rookie Cam Ward was the beneficiary.

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.

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 2137EDT


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