The best news for the Washington Capitals on Saturday may have been the introduction of their new service dog-in-training, a 10-week-old yellow Lab named Captain.
On the ice, the Caps lost 3-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Caps' home opener.
The matchup was the first meeting of the season for the teams.
Erik Haula of the Hurricanes scored his second goal of the season and Jaccob Slavin added his first, both in the third period, as Carolina spoiled Washington's home opener.
James Reimer stopped 33 shots in his first career start for the Hurricanes. Carolina also killed a 4-on-3 power play in overtime after Jordan Staal was called for hooking Nicklas Backstrom.
T.J. Oshie scored his second goal of the season for the Capitals, who were playing the second game of a back-to-back. Garnet Hathaway, who signed as a free agent in July, added his first goal for Washington. Braden Holtby made 25 saves.
Washington came close to an overtime winner late on its man-advantage when a pass deflected off defender Joel Edmundson's left skate and hit the left post.
Instead, it was Gardiner who ended the game a couple minutes later. He picked up the puck in his own end and skated down the left into a 2-on-1. As Backstrom defended the cross-ice pass, Gardiner rifled a shot that found its way between Holtby and the left post.
Haula made it 2-1 with 17:24 to play on Carolina's third power play of the game, finding a spot just in front of Holtby's crease and redirecting Teuvo Teravainen's feed beneath his pads.
Slavin evened the game just over seven minutes later, as the Hurricanes converted on a 4-on-2 break. From right to left, Warren Foegele found Jordan Martinook, who then picked out Slavin, who used his hand to help control a bouncing puck before squeezing a low shot past Holtby.
Saturday's game marked the last in a three-game suspension for "inappropriate conduct" for Capitals C Evgeny Kuznetsov. In August, the IIHF announced the 27-year-old Russian was suspended four years from international competition after violating the world anti-doping code with a positive test for cocaine.
Alex Ovechkin will throw out the first pitch at Game 4 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday.
The Capitals face Dallas at home Tuesday.
Caps fans, soothe yourself with photos of Captain.