Skinner’s Hat Trick Helps ‘Canes Hand Caps 3rd Straight Loss
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WASHINGTON — Jeff Skinner scored three goals, including the winner in overtime, and Anton Khudobin made 38 saves in his first start in 2½ months Thursday night in the Carolina Hurricanes’ 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals.
Skinner took a pass from Ryan Murphy to cap a 3-on-1 break at 1:20 of the extra period for his 19th goal of the season. Manny Malhotra also scored for the Hurricanes, who have won two in a row after a five-game losing streak.
With Cam Ward out with a lower body injury, Khudobin saw his first NHL action since Oct. 13. Khudobin had been out with a lower body injury and was recalled Tuesday after a two-game conditioning assignment in the AHL.
Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, skating on a new line with Eric Fehr and Mikhail Grabovski, broke a four-game point-less streak with a goal but also missed a penalty shot. Troy Brouwer and Steve Oleksy also scored for the Capitals, who have lost three straight and five of six.
Philipp Grubauer, who has quickly emerged as the Capitals’ workhorse in goal ahead of Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth, started for the ninth time in 12 games and finished with 29 saves.
Aside from Skinner’s clincher, the Hurricanes and Capitals compressed the most interesting parts of the game into a whirlwind four-minute stretch early in the second period, when five players scored goals and Ovechkin missed his penalty shot.
Ovechkin started the thrills with his league-leading 31st goal, staking through center ice and putting enough on his shot that a deflection by defenseman Ron Hainsey merely caused to puck to flutter as it went past Khudobin.
Then back and forth they went. Malhotra for the Hurricanes. Brouwer for the Capitals. Ovechkin was dragged down by newly minted U.S. Olympian Justin Faulk and given a penalty shot, but Khudobin poked the puck before the striker could make an attempt on net.
Then Oleksy flung the puck toward the crease and watched it get deflected into the net for only his second goal of the season. Skinner, who scored the lone goal in the first period, got another when he put in a rebound to tie the score at 3.
Skinner’s first-period goal wasn’t hard work at all. A Capitals penalty for too many men on the ice was followed 38 seconds later by a high-sticking call on Brooks Laich, leaving the Hurricanes with a 5-on-3 advantage.
It quickly became more like 5-on-2½ when Nicklas Backstrom broke his stick, leaving plenty of space for Skinner to maneuver to the right of the net and lift a point-blank shot over the crouching Grubauer.
Notes: Laich returned after missing 14 of 15 games with a groin injury. … With F Riley Nash (lower body) out, the Hurricanes recalled F Brett Sutter from Charlotte of the AHL. … Capitals D John Carlson was honored during the first period with a video tribute for his selection to the U.S. Olympic team. Carlson is the first player in franchise history to represent the United States at the Olympics.
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