Capitals beat Hurricanes on OT goal for 2-0 series lead

Published 1:38 am Sunday, April 14, 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — A rat falling out of the arena hallway ceiling during the Carolina Hurricanes’ warmup game of soccer was just a precursor to a wacky afternoon of playoff hockey.

Long after the dead rodent was removed, Game 2 between the Hurricanes and Washington Capitals included a questionable ejection for a check to the head, a shot off one goalie’s mask and another that went in off the other goalie’s backside. It fittingly ended with an overtime goal from an unlikely source that sent the defending Stanley Cup champions into a wild celebration around the team’s most popular player.

Veteran leader Brooks Orpik scored 1:48 into overtime Saturday to give Washington a 4-3 victory and a 2-0 lead over Carolina in the first-round series. His fourth goal in his 151st playoff game was his third winner, and Orpik became just the 11th defenseman in NHL history with two postseason overtime goals.

“I’m probably not counted on for too many goals, but I think if you want to have the long runs, you need everybody kind of chipping in and doing things they don’t normally do,” Orpik said. “Always feels good when the team comes out on top.”

The Capitals came out on top thanks to Alex Ovechkin’s two perfect passes, a 5-on-3 penalty kill and a stick shortage by Carolina that allowed Evgeny Kuznetsov to find Orpik for his goal. Afterward, owner Ted Leonsis quipped, “Just like it was drawn up.”

There was no way to script the strange happenings that unfolded on and off the ice. Perhaps it was an omen for things to come when the ball used in the Hurricanes’ pregame soccer ritual knocked a rat down from the ceiling.

“I saw that,” Carolina’s Sebastian Aho said. “First time I’ve seen it. Kind of odd.”

Then the game happened. Just like Game 1, the Capitals jumped out to an early 2-0 lead — this time on goals by Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie — but this time the Hurricanes didn’t wait until the third period to come back.

Lucas Wallmark scored late in the first after teammate Saku Maenalanen brushed Braden Holtby, which Capitals coach Todd Reirden challenged for goaltender interference. It held up because the NHL situation room and referees determined the contact wasn’t significant enough to disallow the goal.

That only set the stage for Orpik’s heroics. After Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce lost his stick and got one from forward Teuvo Teravainen, the Capitals had the opening they needed to take a 2-0 series lead and players mobbed Orpik to celebrate the father figure’s clutch goal.

“There’s really no better guy to score an OT winner,” Wilson said. “We were pumped up, and he deserves it. Huge goal for us.”

UP NEXT

Game 3 Monday night in Raleigh is the Hurricanes’ first home playoff game since May 26, 2009.

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BRUINS 4, MAPLE LEAFS 1

BOSTON (AP) — Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron scored, Tuukka Rask stopped 30 shots and Boston beat Toronto to tie the series at one game apiece.

Two nights after Toronto beat Boston 4-1 in the opener to steal away home-ice advantage, the Bruins dominated their Atlantic Division rivals, taking a 3-0 lead with a 29-16 edge in shots on goal into the third period. Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen also scored for the Bruins.

Nazem Kadri scored the Leafs’ only goal midway through the third, and Frederik Andersen made 37 saves for Toronto, which returns home for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Wednesday nights.

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PREDATORS 2, STARS 1

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Craig Smith scored five minutes into overtime to give Nashville the victory over Dallas, tying the first-round Western Conference series 1-1.

Smith scored his first this postseason from the inside edge of the left circle to snap a three-game playoff skid on home ice for Nashville.

Rocco Grimaldi also scored for Nashville, and Pekka Rinne made 22 saves. The Predators had lost five of their last six postseason games in the place they call Smashville.

Jamie Benn scored for Dallas. Game 3 is Monday night in Dallas.

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