Hurricanes center Jordan Staal (11) celebrates his tie breaking goal in Game 6. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
Game 6
Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Series tied 3-3 | Next game: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Capital One Arena | TV: NBC Sports Washington, TBD

Game recap: Washington took the lead, but couldn't take the series against Carolina. Read more

Statistical stars: The Hurricanes player with the biggest impact didn't tally a goal. Read more

Game highlights: The biggest moments and running analysis from PNC Arena. Read more

Postgame reading: What players said after a brilliant Game 5 for Washington. Read more

Final score: Hurricanes 5, Capitals 2

Hurricanes surge in third period, force Game 7 with four unanswered goals

By Isabelle Khurshudyan

RALEIGH, N.C. — Alex Ovechkin muttered a few expletives from the Washington Capitals’ bench and shook his head in disgust. He thought he had scored, and he had celebrated like it, too. But then what would have been the game-tying goal got waved off, a decision confirmed by video review from the league.

Less than two minutes later, Carolina Hurricanes captain Justin Williams deflected the puck past goaltender Braden Holtby, ensuring this closer-than-expected first-round Stanley Cup playoff series would go the distance. Carolina’s four unanswered goals coupled with the momentum-changing no-goal decision in the third period ­culminated in a 5-2 Game 6 win for the Hurricanes to force a Game 7, which Washington will host Wednesday night.

The Capitals’ frustration with not closing out the series in their first opportunity to do so was evident in Ovechkin, who had played a masterful game before he seemed to reach a boiling point with his disallowed goal. He was sent to the locker room early after receiving a 10-minute misconduct with 1:08 left in the game.

“They make weird calls all game, but not surprised,” Ovechkin said. “I don’t want to be bad guy or something, but it wasn’t fun. …

“It was a good battle. Good for them, they win Game 6, and you know, Game 7 is going to be much [more] interesting. We know how to play that. Pressure on both teams, but it’s a good chance for us to beat them at home.”

For all the twists and turns through the first six games of this series, there hadn’t been any lead changes until the third period Monday night. Washington had a 2-1 edge in the second period before Carolina’s Teuvo Teravainen tied it 1:56 into that frame, and the score remained tied heading into the third. Hurricanes center Jordan Staal recorded the go-ahead tally with a second-chance effort at the front of the net, the kind of play a shot-volume team such as Carolina feeds on. With the puck bouncing around in the crease, Holtby spread out to take away as much space as possible, but Staal jammed the puck under his leg 3:51 into the period.

Washington appeared to tie it at 10:34. Center Evgeny Kuznetsov skated to the net and tucked the puck between Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek’s skate and the post. Mrazek made the save, spinning to find the puck just as Ovechkin crashed the net along with Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk, whose stick was in the crease in an attempt to swat the puck clear. The Capitals’ case was that the puck was loose before Ovechkin got there, Mrazek never having covered it. The referee’s decision was that Ovechkin interfered with Mrazek by pushing his pad to cause the puck to enter the net.

Washington came unraveled after that decision. Williams’s deflection made it a two-goal game with 8:02 to play, and then defenseman Dougie Hamilton added an empty-net tally. Chants of “Game 7!” echoed through PNC Arena in the closing ­minutes.

Asked whether the Capitals had played well enough to win the game even before Ovechkin’s no-goal, center Nicklas Backstrom said, “No, not really.”

“I thought when they scored, when they were up 4-2, that’s when the urgency started for us, but that was too late,” Backstrom said.

“They’re a hard-working team, and they earned their breaks tonight,” Capitals Coach Todd Reirden said. “They carried the play for some portions of the game, and that was basically self-inflicted in terms of how we were executing — breakouts that weren’t as clean as they were a couple of nights ago, or it was plays at the blue line that didn’t end up behind them. Those are things that we’ve got to get back to.

“They were a desperate team tonight and were harder on those puck battles than we were, and instead of us getting it deep, they were able to go stick-on-puck and cause a turnover. That’s an area that we’ve got to be better, and we’ve got to spend more time in the offensive zone than we did tonight.”

Some of the Capitals’ most glaring execution mistakes were on their two power plays in the second period, when offensive zone entries were disastrous and they put just two shots on goal.

The team that scored first had won the first five games of this series, and 5:06 into the game, Washington got that important first goal when right wing Brett Connolly collected a pass behind the net from center Lars Eller and snapped it over Mrazek.

But then an errant outlet pass by defenseman Matt Niskanen pinned the Capitals in their own zone, and center Nic Dowd took a hooking penalty. Washington technically got through the penalty kill, but Carolina still had possession in the Capitals’ zone when Warren Foegele spun to get a snap shot off with Holtby screened five seconds after the man-advantage expired.

Washington responded less than five minutes later with a brilliant goal from Ovechkin, who dangled around sliding Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin before beating Mrazek from the slot. He celebrated emphatically by dropping to a knee before raising both hands at the blue line.

But the night ended with his lonesome walk down the tunnel, ejected and confounded at how things had gone so wrong.

“Move forward,” Ovechkin said. “Nothing we can do right now.”

Statistical stars

1. Nino Niederreiter: Five shot attempts, three from the crease. His line held a 5-to-2 edge in even-strength scoring chances.

2. Jordan Staal: One goal and one assist. On the ice for seven even-strength scoring chances for, four against.

3. Justin Faulk: One assist, eight shot attempts, one scoring chance and two rebounds created

Some of Carolina’s goals were fluky, some were unlikely (Justin Williams’ deflection is a goal just 8 percent of the time) but you have to credit the Hurricanes for once again dominating the ice. They out shot the Capitals 31 to 22 at even strength and had almost twice as many scoring chances (23 to 13) tonight, a common thread for them throughout this series.

Carolina did have problems finishing these chances during the regular season but if you put enough high-quality shots on net they will, eventually, start to fall. If the Capitals want to continue their title defense they are going to have to find a way to stifle the Hurricanes Grade "A" chances and get more of those chances for themselves.

Game highlights

We’re going seven: The Hurricanes rallied with four straight goals to climb back from a 2-1 deficit in Game 6 and push the series to seven games. In order to push past the reigning Stanley Cup champions however, they will have to do something they’ve not yet done this series: win on the road. Game 7 will be Wednesday with the game time yet to be decided.

Ovi’s out of here: Alexander Ovechkin nearly scored a goal on a sick looking breakaway, but was stopped by Petr Mrazek, then, at the end of a shift that lasted roughly 20 minutes (or so it seemed) Ovechkin took a slash on Saku Maenalanen as Washington made its last desperate push. After the call, Ovechkin mockingly clapped his hands over his head in the direction of the referee and was tossed from the hockey game with a misconduct call with 1:08 remaining.

That’ll do, pig: Dougie Hamilton appears to have locked down the victory with an empty-net goal with 3:06 remaining in the third. Hamilton, he of the chicken-wing taunt by Alex Ovechkin earlier in the game and sharing a name with the Hurricane’s porcine good luck charm, has a measure of redemption after apparently side-stepping a hit from Ovechkin in Game 5, which led to a Capitals goal. It’s 5-2, Carolina and we appear set for a Game 7 Wednesday in Washington.

Clarity on the disallowed goal: NBCSN’s broadcast just relayed the rationale for the no-goal call. The official ruling is that Alex Ovechkin interfered with Petr Mrazek by pushing Mrazek’s pad when he was pushing the puck towards the goal line. By rule, that’s illegal. It does not mean it will sit well with the Capitals.

And the Hurricanes have breathing room: Washington has struggled to clear its zone since the second period and it just burned them as Brett Pesce held in a puck at the blue line and sent it towards the net, where Justin Williams beautifully redirected it past Braden Holtby. It’s 4-2 Hurricanes with eight minutes left in the third.

Washington ties it, but goal waved off: Evgeny Kuznetsov made a slick move with the puck as he charged around the net, tucking it back in front and forcing Petr Mrazek into a desperation save. As it appeared to be under his pads, Alex Ovechkin seemed to push it over the goal line. There was no (audible) whistle on the broadcast prior to the puck sliding over the goal line. After a video review, the call on the ice was confirmed.

The officials can rule that they had the intent to blow the play dead despite them not yet blowing the whistle, which appears to be the case here. NBCSN’s Ed Olczyk noted that it never appeared Mrazek had control of the puck, but the officials apparently saw it differently. Midway through the third period, this call figures to loom large in the outcome.

Capitals kill it off, then nearly tie it up: Washington earned a huge kill to stop the bleeding, and almost scored the tying goal after a pass from Chandler Stephenson was redirected by playmaker-turned-sniper Nicklas Backstrom but was stopped by Petr Mrazek on the short side.

Carolina gets chance to build on the lead: It’s Chandler Stevenson’s birthday, but he’ll have to celebrate part of it from the penalty box after taking a tripping penalty just about two-and-a-half minutes after Carolina tallied the go-ahead goal. Needless to say, this is a huge moment in deciding the outcome of Game 6.

Hurricanes take the lead, 3-2: We have the first lead change of the series, as Jordan Staal punched home a loose puck near the crease with a quick backhand to give Carolina a 3-2 lead. The forecheck of the Hurricanes has slowly taken over this game and it may have just generated a goal for Carolina there as Washington has struggled to get the puck out of its own end.

Fourth line falling short for Capitals: A team’s fourth line is supposed to bring energy. It is supposed to soften up the opposition with heavy hits, endure some blocked shots and maybe generate some shot attempts. Through two periods, Washington’s fourth line of Chandler Stephenson, Nic Dowd and Devante Smith-Pelly, recently called up from the AHL, have done little to none of it.

Those three have six hits (five by Smith-Pelly) and no blocked shots combined, while also trailing Carolina in shot attempts (9 to 2) and scoring chances (4 to 1), with three of those chances against from high-danger areas such as the slot or crease. Most of that output is from the Hurricanes’ fourth line of Patrick Brown, Greg McKegg and Saku Maenalanen, essentially giving Carolina another productive unit to further tilt the ice in their favor. — Neil Greenberg

Four-on-four and nearly a score: Jordan Martinook and Dmitri Orlov were both sent to the penalty box in the waning seconds of the second period -- the former for interference and the latter for embellishment. That will carry over into the third period, but Washington nearly scored twice during the final stages of the second. A deft pass by Nicklas Backstrom sprung John Carlson on a breakaway but Petr Mrazek was able to shut his five hole in time. A final chance, on a setup from Carlson and a tip by Tom Wilson, hit the crossbar and bounced high just as the buzzer sounded.

Carolina to the PK, but no damage done: With 4:36 remaining in the third period, the Hurricanes are heading to the penalty kill after forward Nino Niederreiter was called for high-sticking on John Carlson in the offensive zone. For the second time this period, however, the Hurricanes killed it off. Washington couldn’t even manage a shot on this power play.

There hasn’t been much fluidity over the past few minutes but there has been plenty of pressure at both ends of the ice.

High stick negates Hurricanes goal: Justin Williams nearly put Carolina on top, but played a puck with a high stick as he entered the Washington zone, and thus the play was blown dead when he swatted the puck past Braden Holtby and into the back of the net.

Justin Williams to the box, Capitals to the power play: Williams clipped Jonas Siegenthaler with his stick up high, earning him two minutes in the penalty box with 12:02 to go in the second period. Washington couldn’t score on the man-advantage however. Evgeny Kuznetsov, still without a goal in this series, seemed to have a layup but couldn’t control a pass that hit him just to the left of the low slot. Had he been able to simply redirect that puck towards the goal, Washington is probably leading.

Carolina ties it two minutes into second and a chance for more: Teuvo Teravainen has tied the game at 2 after Sebastian Aho stripped the puck from Capitals Jonas Siegenthaler (arguably with a slash to the hands) and then fed Teravainen directly in front of Holtby for an easy goal that has reignited the crowd in Carolina. Tom Wilson compounded the situation for Washington some 30 seconds later by slashing, and breaking, the stick of Justin Williams to give the Hurricanes a power play and a chance to build some real momentum in Game 6.

Capitals’ third line controls Hurricanes’ stars through first: Sebastian Aho’s line tormented Washington during the first two games at PNC Arena, outscoring the Capitals 1-0 at even strength with a 12-to-6 edge in scoring chances, including six high-danger chances to just one for the Capitals, per data from Natural Stat Trick. Carolina Coach Rod Brind’Amour thought his top line could keep that dominance going against Washington’s third line of Lars Eller, Brett Connolly and Andre Burakovsky tonight, but so far the Capitals have the upper hand in that matchup with Connolly scoring the first goal of the game.

Yet the ice is still tilted towards Washington’s end: Carolina leads in even-strength shot attempts (14 to 7), scoring chances (7 to 3) and high-danger shots, those from the slot or crease (4 to 2). Two of those attempts were right on the doorstep of Braden Holtby. One, from Nino Niederreiter, had a 23 percent chance of lighting the lamp, per Moneypuck, after factoring in shot type, distance and angle. Luckily for Washington he went wide of the net. — Neil Greenberg


First period scoring chances. (Neil Greenberg/The Washington Post)

End of first period: Capitals 2, Hurricanes 1: Washington was outshot 15-7 through the first period, but the Capitals have the lead. While no one should expect the Hurricanes to shrink from the challenge as they cling to their playoff lives, playing with the lead should give the Capitals a little buffer against a crowd that is always ready to erupt for the home team.

Ovechkin puts Capitals back on top, 2-1: A goal off the rush by Alex Ovechkin gave Washington the lead again, 2-1. Defenseman Dougie Hamilton gambled to steal the pass to Ovechkin and missed, the Capitals captain then stickhandled around a diving Jaccob Slavin and wristed it past Petr Mrazek. That is Ovechkin’s fourth goal of the series, the first at even strength, and his eighth point in six games.

Mrazek mauled: The Carolina goaltender went down hard after colliding with a backchecking Justin Williams. Collectively the goalie and forward were able to turn aside an odd-man rush from Carl Hagelin, but Mrazek appeared to be shaken up after the play.

Late breakdown gives Hurricanes the equalizer: What looked like a misread by the Washington penalty killers allowed a last gasp for the Carolina power play when several penalty killers appeared to skate for a line change before the puck left the zone. Carolina kept in the puck and after a few deflected shots, Warren Foegele gathered the puck in the slot and sent a shot off the stick-side post and past Braden Holtby, reviving the Carolina crowd at 10:35. It was Foegele’s fourth goal of the series. The goal came at even strength, just after the penalty time expired on Nic Dowd.

Hurricanes get a power play: A big moment seems to be at hand as far as momentum in Game 6. Nic Dowd was sent to the box for hooking around the 11:30 mark, giving Carolina a power play and a chance to level the score and reclaim some momentum from Washington.

Ovechkin calls Hamilton chicken: Just before the Capitals’ goal, Alex Ovechkin tried to line up Dougie Hamilton for a big hit along the boards, but the defenseman -- very intelligently -- sidestepped the hit and Ovechkin fell over after striking the boards. As Ovechkin skated back to the Caps’ bench, Ovechkin flapped his arms like a chicken, recalling Hamilton’s move to get out of the way from an Ovechkin hit behind Carolina’s goal in Game 5 that allowed Ovechkin to collect the puck and feed Brett Connolly for goal.

Washington’s third line puts Capitals up 1-0: Brett Connolly took a pass from behind the net from Lars Eller, skated to the front of the net and roofed a shot to the long side of the net over the glove of Petr Mrazek to give Washington a 1-0 lead. This is the first time the home team has trailed in this series and the team that has scored first has won all five previous games.

The Capitals were searching for secondary scoring early in this series, when Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom pretty much accounted for all meaningful goals, but this marks the second straight game with a goal from Brett Connolly.

Neither team seizing momentum early: The first big save of the game goes to Braden Holtby who calmly secured a slot shot from Carolina defenseman Dougie Hamilton about three minutes into the game after the blue-liner collected a deflected pass in a fortuitous position. The second big save was made by Petr Mrazek after Jakub Vrana similarly collected a pass, this time in the low slot, and failed to find the back of the net. We’re through five minutes and things are just now heating up.

Jordan Martinook takes warmups for Hurricanes: Martinook — who has made an impact in this series, particularly as a physical presence in the Hurricanes’ two wins — appears to be back in the lineup after missing Game 5, skating with his team in pregame warmups. Martinook was considered a game-time decision coming into Game 6.

The Hurricanes, um, piggest fan is in the building: In case you missed it — and, let’s be honest unless you’re a Hurricanes fan you probably did — there is a pig named Hamilton who is something of a good luck charm for the Hurricanes. The pig lives on a farm about a mile from PNC Arena and has recently visited Hurricanes fans as they tailgated in the parking lot ahead of Carolina’s lopsided Game 3 win. He was back in the lot for the Canes’ Game 4 victory as well. With Carolina now on the ropes, trailing in the series 3-2, the Hurricanes have decided to embrace Hamilton in full, welcoming him into the arena for Game 6.

Hamilton the pig is not named for defenseman Dougie Hamilton, but rather was given the moniker as a play on words, according to a recent article on NHL.com. (Get it, HAM-ilton?) He does have his own instagram account and you can expect to see some shots of him around the arena tonight.

Postgame reading

Immerse yourself in the Capitals’ postseason with The Post’s coverage of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Capitals left frustrated and confused after game-changing call in third period of Game 6

For the Capitals to survive Game 7, they will need a better version of Evgeny Kuznetsov

After a brief identity crisis, Capitals have seemingly rediscovered their most menacing form

Barry Svrluga: Understated as always, Nicklas Backstrom delivers for Capitals

Without T.J. Oshie, the Capitals need someone to take the leading role

NHL experts don’t see a second consecutive Stanley Cup title in Caps’ future

Tom Wilson has seemingly cleaned up his act. Can he walk that line in the playoffs?

After Stanley Cup win, the Capitals now know what’s possible

The two views of Tom Dundon: Carolina Hurricanes’ savior and AAF scourge

As Capitals prepare for Stanley Cup defense, Todd Reirden’s son faces ongoing battle of his own