- Despite putting forth another strong effort, the Carolina Hurricanes came up short in a 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals, a defeat that stings all the more due to the timing. The loss drops the Canes to just 1-8-1 in their last 10 games, as the team sits in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, still just four points out of first place in the Southeast Division. “We did plenty of good things tonight,” Jiri Tlusty said. “We just have to stay focused, and we can’t just hang our heads.”
- Tlusty tallied all three of the Canes goals, notching his first-career hat trick and matching his season-high in goals with 17, set in 2011-12. Tlusty potted two goals on the power play and ranks second on the team with three power play goals this season. The Canes’ man advantage finished 2-for-4 on the night. “It was a great moment,” Tlusty, who recorded NHL point No. 100, said of his hat trick. “[Semin] was the first guy I saw coming to me. I saw his face, and it was just a good moment for myself and for my linemates.”
- Joni Pitkanen left the game late in the second period with what looked to be a dreadful foot/heel/ankle injury. Pitkanen was racing back to beat out an icing call when he lost an edge and slid feet-first into the end boards at top speed. He was writhing in pain and had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher. It was a scary scene on the ice. In what is perhaps good news – if there is any to glean from an otherwise horrific moment – Pitkanen was treated on-site at PNC Arena. Head coach Kirk Muller said that he did not know the extent of Pitkanen’s injury.
- Pitkanen’s injury, of course, brings to light the debate of no-touch or hybrid icing. Muller said a rule change is “long overdue.”
- Marc-Andre Bergeron recorded his first Hurricanes point on his first power-play shift with the team. A calming quarterback at the point with the puck, Bergeron slid the biscuit to Tlusty in the far circle, and Tlusty ripped a snap shot past Holtby. “That’s what he does,” Muller said of Bergeron’s instant impact. “He’s got the shot, but he just calms everything down. He’s smart enough to know when to shoot and when to make the plays.”
- Bergeron, who logged 21:31 of ice time (tops among Canes defensemen), on a day that began in Tampa Bay and ended in Raleigh: “It’s been a fun day, a tough day, a weird day, but I’m very happy to be here,” he said. “I’m excited. You can’t tell really right now, I guess. It’s a very good hockey team. I’m used to playing against these guys, but playing with them tonight, I was like, ‘Wow, these guys are good.’ I’m very glad to be here.”
- The new, approved wording for Rule 67 (handling the puck) reads as follows: “Any time a player places his hand over the puck while it is on the ice in order to conceal it from or prevent an opponent from playing the puck, a minor penalty shall be assessed for “closing his hand on the puck.’” This is the second time in four games the Canes have been burned by the amended decree. Jeff Skinner was whistled for this penalty tonight by simply playing the puck with his hand to his stick, and the Capitals netted a goal on the ensuing power play. Eric Staal was whistled for this infraction in Toronto, and the Leafs scored a goal just five seconds after the penalty expired. It’s a brutal rule, for sure, but regardless, the players have to be aware of its implications.
- Looking for a win to snowball into a favorable streak, the Hurricanes will be back in action on Thursday, as they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. “We’re just not getting the end result, which is unfortunate because they deserve better. They’re pushing hard,” Muller said. “We’re being tested now. I’d call a spade a spade if we didn’t play well, but there have been a few games lately that we’re not getting points that we deserved better.”
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Carolina's Jiri Tlusty scored three goals early. The Washington Capitals scored even more late.
Alex Ovechkin had two goals and an assist, and the Capitals rallied to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3 Tuesday night despite giving up a hat trick to Tlusty.
Mike Green scored two goals, Joel Ward added a goal, Nicklas Backstrom matched a career high with four assists and Braden Holtby made 31 saves.
Washington trailed 2-0 early - Tlusty alone outscored the Capitals 3-2 before the second period was 2 minutes old - but needed just 11 shots over the first two periods to score all five goals.
"When you play with confidence, every chance, whether you're going to score or not, is going to be a hard time for them," Ovechkin said.
In leapfrogging Carolina for second place in the Southeast Division, the Capitals won their seventh in 11 games and won for the first time since 2007 when allowing a hat trick to an opposing player, according to STATS LLC.
"We knew where we were and where we stand, and what games are most important here," Green said, "and tonight was the biggest one for us yet."
They've plunged from the division lead during an injury-riddled stretch in which they have dropped nine of 10, and for the first time since moving from Hartford in 1997, they lost a game when one of their players scored three goals.
"You're still in there. We have to just stay focused," Tlusty said. "Focus is going to be a big key. We still have plenty of games left and we still have a big chance. We played a solid game tonight. It just didn't end up with the W."
Carolina's Dan Ellis stopped four of the seven shots he faced but left after Green's second goal tied it at 3 with 15:34 left in the second. He was replaced by Justin Peters, who stopped nine of 11 shots.
"We sensed their goalie was a little bit hesitant," Green said, "so we threw everything at him."
Ovechkin gave the Capitals the lead for good with 8:54 left in the second when a poor clearing pass led to a 2-on-1 rush that he capped with a goal that made it 4-3 and a celebratory leap into the boards.
Ward then stretched the lead to 5-3 with a short-handed goal with 44.9 seconds left in the second.
"I think we outplayed them, but we gave up too many odd-man rushes, and they always score on them," Tlusty said.
Tlusty scored twice for a Carolina power-play unit that entered as the NHL's worst and was a big reason why the Hurricanes picked up power-play specialist Marc-Andre Bergeron earlier in the day in a trade with Tampa Bay.
That defensive depth may be tested after Pitkanen was hurt with 1:57 left in the second. He was racing to beat an icing call when he went into the boards and was taken off the ice on a stretcher.
Coach Kirk Muller didn't know the extent of the injury and said he thought it was either an ankle or a heel.
Tlusty took care of his hat trick just 1:52 into the second period and just 70 seconds after Green tied it at 2, taking a pretty cross-ice pass from Staal and pushing it past Holtby.
"I was just in the right spot in the right time, and he made a pass right on my stick," Tlusty said.
Tlusty put the Hurricanes up 1-0 midway through the first by stuffing in a rebound, then made it 2-0 roughly 2 1/2 minutes later on the power play with a wrist shot from the circle.
But ultimately, he became the answer to a trivia question: He's the club's first player to record a hat trick in a loss since Jeff O'Neill did it for the Hartford Whalers on Jan. 31, 1997, in a loss to Anaheim, according to STATS.
The Capitals needed just 81 seconds to wipe out that two-goal deficit.
Ovechkin started the rally by beating Ellis with a rising slap shot with 39 seconds left in the first period, and Green made it 2-all with a power-play goal just 42 seconds into the second.
"Green's goal right away in the second was huge," Ovechkin said, "and we just kept going."
NOTES: Ovechkin extended his points streak to nine games. ... Washington C Marcus Johansson had two assists. ... Carolina D Jamie McBain was a healthy scratch. ... The Hurricanes were busy before the game, activating D Bobby Sanguinetti from injured reserve in addition to picking up Bergeron. ... Washington activated D John Erskine from injured reserve and had him in the lineup.
Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at (at)JoedyAP.