RALEIGH, N.C. - The Carolina Hurricanes finally played like division leaders against last-place Washington. It still wasn't enough to satisfy Rod Brind'Amour.
The Carolina captain scored two goals to lead the Hurricanes past the Capitals 4-3 on Friday night.
"The other night I played pretty well and got nothing," Brind'Amour said, referring to a 3-1 loss to Philadelphia two nights earlier. "Tonight, I played horrible and got a couple of goals."
Cory Stillman and Matt Cullen also scored for Southeast Division-leading Carolina, which rallied from a 1-0 deficit with three straight goals.
The Hurricanes were held to a season-low 19 shots, yet generated just the kind of scoring outburst that could help them snap out of their worst stretch of the season. They entered the game with just 13 goals in seven games - five of them losses.
"Two points right now is huge for our team," goalie Cam Ward said. "We realize that we've got to be playing better. We're going to do what we can to take the positives and move forward."
Alexander Ovechkin had two goals and an assist, and Michael Nylander had a goal and an assist for the Capitals.
"I think we have to play the same way again," Ovechkin said. "This is our game. They had some lucky goals."
Nylander's goal came with 4:07 to play and pulled Washington within a goal, before Cam Ward stopped three good scoring chances in the final 90 seconds.
Ward finished with 31 saves to help Carolina even the series at two games apiece. Olie Kolzig stopped 15 shots for Washington, which lost its third straight and fell to 2-3 under interim coach Bruce Boudreau.
"It's like a black cloud is hanging over us. We feel like Linus in the Snoopy cartoons," Boudreau said. "But at the same time, it's adversity we have to fight out of, and when you do fight out of that, eventually you're going to succeed."
Brind'Amour - the only Carolina player with points in each of the Hurricanes' 14 victories - scored his first goal on a second-period redirection that made it 3-1. He tapped Tim Gleason's wrist shot from the point past the screened Kolzig, beating him high and to his stick side.
The goal was upheld after a video review determined Brind'Amour didn't strike the puck with a high stick - one of three long-distance calls to Toronto that went Carolina's way.
"He kind of froze me with the stick," Kolzig said. "I don't know if he did (touch it). Just a weird hockey game. All the bizarre stuff that's happening, and we almost pulled it out of the fire, but it wasn't enough."
His second goal came early in the third when he threw the puck from behind the net toward Kolzig, and the puck clipped his blocker and trickled into the net to make it 4-2.
Stillman tied it at 1-1 with his team-leading 13th goal after Ovechkin started the scoring just 2½ minutes into the game, and two seconds into a power play. He snatched a bouncing puck off a faceoff and beat Ward with a slap shot from the slot. Cullen put Carolina ahead to stay early in the second with his sixth goal.
Ovechkin's second goal - his team-leading 19th - came early in the third when he scooped up the puck near the boards, weaved through both Carolina defenders and snapped a wrist shot from the slot that got past Ward's glove side and briefly pulled Washington to 3-2.
"We're shooting ourselves in the foot too many times - giving them the puck, handing it over and then we're back in front of our net," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said.
The Capitals seemingly couldn't catch any breaks on this night - they had one goal overturned, and another came a nanosecond late.
First, Ovechkin appeared to give Washington a 2-1 lead in the first when he slipped the puck between Ward's pads. But after a brief review, the goal was disallowed because Ovechkin kicked the puck into the net instead of using his stick.
Then, Green tapped a rebound past a diving Ward at the end of the second period - an instant after the green light flashed and the buzzer sounded to end the period. The call was upheld after another review.
"That was the weirdest night of hockey I've had in a while," Kolzig said.
Notes: Ovechkin has 15 goals in 20 career games against Carolina. ... Ward has an 8-3 career record against Washington. ... Stillman extended his points streak to six games and had goals in two straight. ... Washington captain Chris Clark (groin) was a scratch.