Looking for a silver lining to last night's 4-1 loss to the Devils? Well, it is just one game. But looking back at Carolina's postseason history doesn't help matters.
Surely everyone will think back to the magical 2006 playoff run when the Hurricanes lost Games 1 and 2 at home to Montreal, only to storm back — with Cam Ward replacing a flu-weakened Martin Gerber in net — and reel off four straight wins to take the series in six.
But that team was the favorite, expected to knock off the Canadiens. While many have predicted a Canes upset over the Devils in this series, the facts are Carolina is the No. 6 seed, the Devils No. 3. And the franchise hasn't fared well when losing Game 1 on the road.
Here's a brief history, in reverse chronological order (both Hurricanes and Whalers):
2001 • New Jersey Devils • Conference Quarterfinals (Round 1)
Sergei Brylin opened the scoring with an unassisted tally in the first and the Devils were on their way to a Game 1 win. Bobby Holik scored twice and New Jersey plowed to a 5-0 lead before Josef Vasicek scored midway through the third to break up Martin Brodeur's shutout bid. Devils 5, Canes 1.
The Hurricanes then dropped Games 2 and 3 before saving their season courtesy a Rod Brind'Amour overtime winner in Game 4. Carolina won again in Game 5, 3-2, before bowing out following a 5-1, Game 6 loss.
1992 • Montreal Canadiens • Division Semifinal (Round 1)
Home ice was the difference in this series as the hosts won every game. The Habs jumped out to a 2-0 series lead but the Whalers responded by winning Games 4 and 5 at the Hartford Civic Center. Montreal and Hartford held serve in the next two games, but the Canadiens would win the series on a Russ Courtnall double-overtime goal in Game 7.
1989 • Montreal Canadiens • Division Semifinal (Round 1)
The Canadiens had their way with the Whale this series. They dominated Game 1, 6-2, and proceeded to sweep Hartford in four. The Habs won Game 2 at home, then went on the road and beat the Whalers in two straight overtime games.
1988 • Montreal Canadiens • Division Semifinal (Round 1)
Patrick Roy and Co. took Game 1, 4-3, then motored to a 3-0 series lead. The Whalers responded, winning Game 4, 7-5, and going to the Forum and taking Game 5, 3-1. Brian Hayward took the loss in net for the Habs that game, but bounced back to win Game 6 to finish off Hartford.
1980 • Montreal Canadiens • Preliminary Round (Round 1)
The beginning of a long — and as we've shown, unsuccessful — rivalry with the Canadiens. This series dates back to the Best-of-5 preliminary round days, but it only took three games. Montreal blew out the Whalers 6-1 in Game 1 (defenseman-turned-broadcaster Brian Engblom had the game-winner), then again stomped Hartford in Game 2 at the Forum, 8-4 (current Habs GM Bob Gainey had the GWG in that one). The Habs finished off the Whale with a goal by Yvon Lambert 29 seconds into overtime of Game 3, winning 4-3.
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So while these aren't unchartered waters for the franchise, they are hostile ones.
What does it all mean? Nothing, really.
If Carolina bounces back and wins Game 2, most in the hockey world will perceive the Hurricanes took home ice away from the favored Devils. The series would shift to Raleigh, where Brodeur has lost six straight in the postseason (last win in Game 6 clincher of the aforementioned 2001 playoff series, when the building was still known as the Entertainment and Sports Arena) and is just 2-7 in the NHL's second season.
Lose Game 2 at The Rock, and Carolina will return home looking for the kind of magic they found in '06 against Montreal. We know being down 2-0 isn't a death sentence, but it's certainly an arraignment.
Historical Playoff Tidbit
No player in franchise history has scored a hat trick in the postseason. Twenty-one times a player has scored twice — the last coming by Eric Staal against Edmonton in Game 5 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals, a game the Oilers won on Fernando Pisani's shorthanded overtime winner — but never has a Hurricane or Whaler struck thrice in a playoff game.
The franchise has four hat tricks scored against them, all when the team was in Hartford.
Quebec had an astonishing three hat tricks in the 1987 Division Semifinals. The Whalers won Games 1 and 2 at home, but the Nordiques got hat tricks in Game 3 from Peter Stastny, Game 4 from Michel Goulet and Game 5 from John Ogrodnick (over the course of just four days) to seize control of the series. They finished off Hartford in Game 6 on a Stastny overtime winner.
The other hat trick? Boston Bruins Hall of Famer Cam Neely, who potted three in The B's 4-3 win in Game 2, evening the series they'd eventually take from Hartford in six games.