Two days after multiple players questioned the Washington Capitals’ effort and willingness to fight back, they found themselves in another test of their collective mettle.

Washington trailed by two goals within the first nine minutes at PNC Arena on Thursday night against the same Carolina Hurricanes that dealt the Caps a decisive loss earlier in the week, leading to the crisis of confidence. The stakes were high — another loss could have caused even more damage to the Capitals’ postseason hopes, and all but eliminated them from the Southeast Division race — but this time they responded.

Fourth-liner Joey Crabb and superstar winger Alex Ovechkin scored to tie the game. Then, desperate to prevent Carolina from a point and with the clock approaching the final two minutes, Ovechkin sprung free on a breakaway. His shot hit the post, but Mike Ribeiro knocked the loose rebound just barely over the goal line for the decisive score and a 3-2 victory.

“I thought like, ‘Jesus, like please. Just goes in somehow’ and it went in,” said Ovechkin, who recorded his 700th career point in the contest. “It’s kind of disappointed for me like I can shoot easily for second goal but right now the kind of position we are it doesn't matter if me or Ribs score, it's huge two points for us.”

Washington (11-14-1) sits in 12th place in the Eastern Conference with 23 points, seven back of eighth-place Winnipeg for the final postseason berth; the Caps are eight behind the division-leading Hurricanes with 22 games to play.