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Recap: Hurricanes dominate Capitals in first home playoff game in a decade

The Canes got back in the series, and they did it in style.

Jamie Kellner

RALEIGH - Game three between the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals was nothing short of a must-win for the Canes, and oh boy, did they come through...

The Hurricanes rolled over the Capitals to the tune of a 5-0 blowout win to get back in the series, which now stands at 2-1 in favor of the Caps.

Here’s how it all went down.

Playoff hockey’s return to Raleigh, North Carolina was just about as crazy and dramatic as anyone could’ve imagined.

Just before the half-way point of the opening frame, the Hurricanes scored the game’s first goal and PNC Arena exploded. Warren Foegele refused to be moved from the front of the net, and his persistence was rewarded when Justin Faulk’s blue-line wrister bounced off of him and fluttered up and over the goal line.

The goal marked Carolina’s first lead of the opening round series and got the home team off to a hugely important good start.

What followed sucked all of the fun out of the building and replaced it all with intense anger.

Andrei Svechnikov decided that his first fight in the NHL would be against Alex Ovechkin.

It ended horribly.

Ovechkin threw a couple of weak-contact punches, but the third one hit. Hard. Ovechkin landed a right fist to the chin of the 19-year-old and Svechnikov got knocked out instantly. Ovechkin guided him to the ground and partially landed on him, to boot. There wasn’t any ill-will from the veteran Russian superstar, he got challenged and he accepted the challenge. That said, it added even more emotion to this series that has been filled to the brim in that category.

Shortly after Ovechkin served his major penalty and returned to the ice, Carolina’s goal scorer Foegele (and very close friend of Svechnikov) got up in his face after the whistle. From there, tempers continued to flare through the end of the period, including after the buzzer, when Greg McKegg’s hit ignited a big fire, but cooler heads (eventually) prevailed and the teams went to their respective locker rooms.

The second period managed to be even more dominant for the home team, as they continued to dictate play and dominate every aspect of the hockey game. The Capitals very rarely had the puck and were chasing the Hurricanes all over the ice.

A broken play from the Caps gifted the Canes a two-on-one rush, and Sebastian Aho’s pass was ripped through Holtby and into the net by Foegele to make it 2-0. It was Foegele’s second of the night, marking his first multi-goal game since October 7 in Carolina’s 8-5 win over the New York Rangers.

Just over half way through the middle frame, the Hurricanes got a power play. The first unit had sustained pressure but couldn’t get on the board. The second unit, however, broke the dam.

Jaccob Slavin found Jordan Staal in the slot, and he made a smart decision passing the puck to a charging Dougie Hamilton, and Dougie wired a wrist shot right by Braden Holtby to increase Carolina’s lead to 3-0. The crowd went wild - and that’s almost certainly an understatement. The sellout crowd (plus standing room only seats) went bonkers. They supplied the Canes a true home ice advantage all night.

Tempers continued to flare in the second period, and Foegele’s hat trick bid put it over the top. Foegele got denied by Holtby on a long breakaway chance and took several whacks at his pads in hopes of lodging it free. Instead, he got a face full of John Carlson, who then got a face full of Jordan Staal. Foegele and Carlson both went to the box for two minutes.

At the end of the second period, the Hurricanes held a 3-0 led in game three and were outshooting the Capitals by a staggering margin at 33-10 after the road team managed just one shot on goal during the second act.

The third period was just more of the same. The Hurricanes continued to look like a team that was in a league above the Caps - perhaps even two leagues above them.

An early Washington power play got taken care of in impressive fashion by Carolina, and then they did it again a few minutes later when Haydn Fleury went to the box for high-sticking.

Lars Eller got assigned two minutes in the box at the 8:19 mark of the final frame for roughing Trevor van Riemsdyk in the Canes’ zone, and that’s when the house came down.

Dougie Hamilton scored on the power play, again. A drive from the “Stanley Cup Playoffs 2019” paint inside the blue line found its way by Jordan Staal’s net-front presence and into the Washington goal.

The rest of the way, the Canes held their foot down on the gas. They stayed extremely aggressive and physical and that led to some visible frustration from the Caps. Brock McGinn got a grade-a chance on a broken play odd-man rush and didn’t waste it. He sniped a beauty over the shoulder of Holtby to make it a 5-0 game.

Carolina got another late power play and produced some chances, but the game was already over by that point. Washington killed the penalty and kept the game at five. That’s eventually how the game ended, at 5-0.

It was a dominant, emotional win for the Hurricanes. It’s a new series now. 2-1.

They Said It

Rod Brind’Amour:

I don't have an update. He was gone when we came in. Svech means a lot to us. Young kid, just turned 19. He has a special bond with our group, and with me too. When you see that, it makes you sick. I’m still sick to my stomach about it.

How do you comment on it? It’s a little bit tough, I just heard Ovi talk about it, he said our guy challenged him. If that’s the case, it’s a little different. If you watch the video, he slashes him twice, whack whack, and then Svech gives it back. I don’t know if there are words exchanged, but one guy’s gloves come off first, and that’s Ovi. It’s not our guy.

It’s a little bit frustrating, because he got hurt and it’s his first fight. He’s played 90 games, he’s never fought in his life, and I’m pretty sure Ovi knew that. That stuff bothered me. But it’s done. I’m proud of our group, to come back and just play the game. I think our fans helped, we were down another guy and I didn’t know what to expect. We just played hard, so...good win.

I was just hoping that we could just play our game. We hadn’t played very well in our first two games. Maybe in spurts there, but I felt like right from the start it was good. Where did it come from? I don’t know. The guys understand the situation, we’re in a must-win situation.

I felt like the energy in the building helped us. The crowd was great. Our guys just kept going, one after another, whoever’s up let’s just do it. The other side of it, they’re up 2-0, they’ve been through this before, the score gets a little out of hand, I don’t know how much energy they wanted to exert to get back into the game - it only counts as one game, and we’re throwing everything we can at them. We understand, it’s one game, but it was nice to play like that.

[Foegele] has been a real effective player for us. Came into camp, made our team, he earned the right to be in our squad and he’s been good all year. We kind of used him less but I think he’s always had that ability. He can really skate, he plays intense, it’s great to see.

[What’s working with the second PP unit?] Shooting the puck. Our other guys don’t want to shoot it. Sometimes they go in, but they never go in if you don’t shoot. Our first unit - if you want to call it that; I don’t call it like that - they still want to get a little too cute.

[Ferland] had an upper-body thing that he said was lingering. He said it affected him in Game 1 and he reaggravated it, so he came out.

Warren Foegele:

[On how the fight changed the game] It was an unfortunate incident there, but that’s our brother and we stand up for each other. We knew we needed to get the win, not only for us, but for him.

[On their hot start] I thought all of us were working hard. We battled hard and it was a full team-effort win.

[On how his big offensive performance felt] Yeah, it was nice, but it’s more fun winning. I’m a pretty competitive guy, and we’re all competitive, too. It’s a lot more fun when you win.

Justin Williams:

[On the win] We were on them and kept pushing and kept pushing and kept pushing. We were up and in their face and we probably played our best game of the year.

[On if he was surprised to see the Ovechkin fight] Yeah.

[His thoughts on the fight] Yeah, it was unfortunate.

[On how Foegele stepped up and contributed] Yeah, well everyone stepped up, but Warren definitely scoring a couple of goals and Dougie scoring a couple of goals - it was nice, you know. Those are two guys Svechnikov hangs out with quite a bit, and they picked them up and score a couple apiece. Like I said, it’s a big win, but it’s only one.

[On how the defense helped Mrazek] Yeah, they were great. They were up. They didn’t give (the Caps offense) a lot of time. Obviously, they have a lot of skill guys, and if they have time, they’re gonna make plays. Washington has a ton of that. We were in their face and it was a big win for us.

[On if the physical play ramped up after the fight] Well more intensity, definitely. Whenever something like that happens, it adds a little snarl.

[On Svechnikov] I love Svech. He’s a gamer. And he’s a really good kid.

[On the crowd] It was electric, it was fun. It was exactly what it was supposed to be. I’m glad we got a win... We fed off of it, absolutely. We just kept feeding off of it and feeding off of it. It was electric. It was a great building.

[On if the Canes can carry anything from game three into game four] Well, confidence. We’ve lost this year six games to Washington, until tonight. Close games. One-goal games. So, to get (a win) tonight, that’ll spring-board us.

Petr Mrazek:

It was really good, I think in the second period we did a really good job in the D zone and put the pucks out, and you could see the result from it.

Every game’s different, but on home ice, the fans were great. They were like an extra player for us. Everything is easier after that. It makes it easier to stay focused, even though I didn’t face many shots the [last two] periods, the crowd makes you alive.

[The Caps’ crowding the crease] doesn’t get me off my game. I can always get them back. Nothing crazy, just go easy on them. Someone slashed me a little from behind, I just gave it to him back a little bit.