Victor Rask broke a tie on a delayed penalty with 9:06 left to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night, hours after the team's sale to Dallas billionaire Tom Dundon was finalized.
Rask's 11th goal of the season came with goalie Scott Darling pulled for the extra attacker after Tom Wilson was whistled for a penalty. The puck pinballed off several players in front and went to Rask at the side of the net.
By improving to 9-7-8 in one-goal games, Carolina leapfrogged the idle Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins to move into a playoff position after 42 games. Winger Justin Williams, who left Washington after two seasons, said the difference between the Capitals being in first place in the Metropolitan Division and the Hurricanes down the standings was success in tight games.
Co-captain Jordan Staal also scored and Sebastian Aho added an empty-netter for Carolina, which got 26 saves from Darling. Lars Eller scored and Braden Holtby stopped 30 of 32 shots for Washington, which had its five-game winning streak and NHL-best 11-game home winning streak snapped.
It's the Capitals' first home loss since Nov. 30.
The Hurricanes celebrated this victory after the league announced Dundon had completed his purchase of the Hurricanes from former majority owner Peter Karmanos. Dundon, Karmanos and commissioner Gary Bettman will hold a news conference Friday in Raleigh, North Carolina, to discuss an important step for the franchise.
Dundon has said he'll keep the Hurricanes there, at least temporarily ending relocation speculation.
On the ice, not much had changed with these teams since the Capitals came back to beat the Hurricanes 5-4 in overtime Jan. 2, but that familiarity didn't help during an uneventful first period. It took until 11:33 into the second for Staal to score the first goal of the game, intercepting a power-play pass attempt from John Carlson to Alex Ovechkin and scoring on the ensuing breakaway.
Staal has 34 short-handed points, one shy of Minnesota's Matt Cullen for the most among active players. It was the sixth short-handed goal allowed by Washington this season; only four teams have given up more.
Carolina's lead only lasted a few minutes as Eller scored on a one-timer at the 16:05 mark of the second, his third consecutive game with a goal.
NOTES: Hurricanes D Brett Pesce was a surprise scratch with an upper-body injury. Pesce took a spill while trying to take a slap shot during the morning skate. ... Capitals F Andre Burakovsky was a late scratch with an illness.
The Hurricanes host the Capitals on Friday night in the second half of the home-and-home series. It's their third meeting in 10 days.