Washington took the lead for good at 2-1 when Ovechkin was knocked off the puck in the Hurricanes' zone but Steckel picked it up and lifted a forehand shot into the net midway through the frame.
Semyon Varlamov stopped 33 shots and Mathieu Perreault also scored for the Caps, who kept pace with Tampa Bay atop the Southeast Division with the victory.
Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu scored for Carolina. Ward stopped 27-of-30 Washington shots.
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