Carolina Hurricanes' Jeff Skinner (53) celebrates his goal against the Washington Capitals with teammates Riley Nash (20), Brett Pesce (54), Noah Hanifin (5) and Victor Rask (49), of Sweden, during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Raleigh, N.C.,
Gerry Broome
December 31, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Eric Staal knew he scored the go-ahead goal for Carolina well before the officials figured it out.

Staal broke a tie 51 seconds into the third period and the Hurricanes went on to beat the Washington Capitals 4-2 on Thursday night.

The goal was initially waved off and play continued for a few seconds before the horn sounded to stop play and start a review that determined it counted.

''I was pretty sure it went in, but you don't want to celebrate like a real yahoo and then (have) it called back,'' Staal said.

Phillip Di Giuseppe, Jeff Skinner and Andrej Nestrasil also scored, and Eddie Lack made 30 saves to help the Hurricanes end the Capitals' winning streak at nine games. Carolina has earned points in seven of 10, and has won four of six.

''We've got to stay confident and believe that if we can continue to play like we are, we can accumulate a bunch of wins here,'' Staal said.

Alex Ovechkin had his 21st goal for Washington, and Nicklas Backstrom also scored.

''We were way too loose,'' Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. ''We were throwing loose change in the middle of the ice, and our battles weren't as strong as they needed to be until the end, when we had a push. ... We had a couple of passengers today, which is rare.''

Staal gave Carolina a 2-1 lead, and Skinner followed with his 15th of the season at 5:16. Ovechkin cut it to one with 5:44 left, and Nestrasil had an empty-net goal in the final minute.

Staal was coming off a two-goal performance in a loss at New Jersey on Tuesday night. It took a while before the Carolina's captain was awarded the go-ahead goal in this one - the officials disallowed it before a video review confirmed that the puck crossed the line before goalie Phillipp Grubauer got his stick on it.

''He made a desperation attempt at it and it was close, but not close enough,'' Staal said.

Skinner gave the Hurricanes a 3-1 lead off Riley Nash's slick pass from behind the net, and they needed it after Ovechkin scored the 496th of his career off an assist from Brooks Laich.

Grubauer finished with 33 saves for the Capitals.

''The biggest disappointment, from our standpoint, we got a really good goaltending performance from Grubauer and sort of wasted that,'' Trotz said.

Backstrom's goal came 2:01 after Di Giuseppe put the Hurricanes up 1-0 in the second period.

NOTES: The Hurricanes improved to 11-3-4 when scoring first. ... Carolina D Justin Faulk skated in his 300th career game.

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