It was a monumental night in Raleigh last night as the Carolina Hurricanes hosted their first playoff game since 2009. Dougie Hamilton and Warren Foegele led the way offensively as Petr Mrazek shut the door on the other end to give the Canes a 5-0 victory over the Washington Capitals.
PNC Arena was absolutely electric from the moment the doors opened and the team played phenomenal hockey from start to finish. Yet, for as great as everything was, the scary ending to the Alex Ovechkin and Andrei Svechnikov fight kept last night from being a truly perfect storm.
The Good - Utter Dominance
From the very beginning of the game it was clear the Hurricanes came to play. For the first time in the series they were able to take a lead in a game and they never looked back after that point. That lead came via Warren Foegele’s first goal of the evening as he was able to deflect a puck past Braden Holtby despite being harassed in front of the Washington net.
Foegele scored a huge goal to break the ice in the game against Montreal that clinched the Hurricanes’ playoff berth, and he came through again last night. But one goal wasn’t enough for the rookie, as he tallied the second goal of the game as well off a feed from Sebastian Aho.
Neither goal was a skill goal if you will but both came from being in the right position. Never giving up while fighting to win the net front battle leads to the first goal and Aho sets up Foegele for an easy tap in on the second one. Foegele will likely have an opportunity to slide up in the lineup if Svechnikov and Micheal Ferland are out and after last night he has earned that right.
Not to be outdone by Foegele’s offensive performance, the hottest defenseman in the NHL joined the fun, adding two goals of his own on the night. Dougie Hamilton has been a scoring machine since the turn of the calendar and last night was no different. Converting on two power play opportunities, Hamilton seems to always find a way to score when most needed. He has a sneaky good wrist shot and has the skating ability to create plays.
Meanwhile on the other end of the ice, Petr Mrazek had another great game. Thanks to absolutely stellar defensive play, Mrazek only had to face 18 shots but he stopped every single one, earning a shutout. Mrazek made numerous saves to force overtime in the second game but didn’t get rewarded with a victory. Last night has to go a very long way for his confidence and there’s no doubt who Rod Brind’Amour is going to ride for the rest of this series.
The Bad - The Fight
No matter your stance on fighting, the one thing you never want to see is someone get hurt, and especially not a talented young rookie like Andrei Svechnikov. Everyone knew that Alex Ovechkin had been trying to bully Svechnikov in the first two games and it came to a tipping point last night.
Ovechkin claimed after the game that Svechnikov asked him to fight but Ovi sure dropped the gloves first. What was actually said between the two will never be truly known but no matter how it started, the end result was bad for everyone. The Hurricanes will likely be without one of their best forwards for a while but the NHL as a whole will be without a superstar in the making during the playoffs and that is the real shame in this all.
"I'm not a big fighter.."— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) April 16, 2019
Ovechkin spoke after the game on his fight with Svechnikov pic.twitter.com/XQeH9lscG2
We all hope Svechnikov will be okay. It was a very scary situation and one nobody should ever want to see. The team as a whole policed it fairly well afterwards but there is no doubt Ovechkin is now public enemy number one in Raleigh - and it’s no small feat to push Brooks Orpik out of that spot. One has to also think that Jordan Martinook or Brock McGinn will likely have some sort of response in game four on Thursday.
Brind’Amour visibly emotional speaking of Svechnikov. “He has a real bond with this group of guys. I was sick to my stomach. I still am.”— x - Canes Country (@CanesCountry) April 16, 2019
Brind’Amour said on Tuesday morning that, unsurprisingly, Svechnikov was in the concussion protocol. He was moving around the locker room and looked to be in good spirits, according to the coach, so while he’s unlikely to play in Game 4, here’s hoping his injury won’t be any more than a short-term thing that doesn’t linger and affect his game in the years to come.
The Great - The Atmosphere
If you weren’t lucky enough to be one of the 18,783 fans in attendance last night... I’m sorry. The atmosphere inside PNC Arena was everything you knew it would be and then some. The tailgating started around 2pm (that included a real life cousin of Stormy), the woo’s began over an hour before puck drop, and the party may still have not stopped.
There are not enough words to describe how great it felt for there to be playoff hockey in Raleigh again. The fans are back, the life in the arena is back, and there’s an entire generation of fans who though The Loudest House In The NHL was a joke that are now being proven wrong.
The best way to explain this is to just show it. Here are a few clips from last night of just how amazing the atmosphere truly was:
The players took notice too:
Dougie Hamilton on the 18,783 at @PNCArena tonight: "The crowd was unbelievable. It was one of the loudest buildings I’ve ever played in. Just so fun."— Michael Smith (@MSmithCanes) April 16, 2019
Also witnessed by Gary Bettman and Bill Daly.
The commissioner and deputy commissioner were sitting (well, standing) a handful of rows in front of me last night. Here’s a sample of what they experienced. Just a random outburst with about 8 minutes remaining #TakeWarning #SurgeTogether pic.twitter.com/MJZDnZixe9— x-Jamie Kellner (@jbkellner) April 16, 2019
The Washington Capitals and the NHL have been on notice, The Loudest House In The NHL is BACK. Expect Thursday to be even crazier.
Moral of the Story
Last night was great in so many ways. The atmosphere was unbelievable, the team played lights out, and most importantly the Canes got the victory. You wish the injury to Svechnikov had not happened but it did. All you can do is move forward and hope he gets better soon. It is the only downside to an otherwise perfect night for the Carolina Hurricanes.
For now, celebrate and enjoy this one, but there has to be a repeat on Thursday to keep this series from getting out of hand. If last night was any indication, that certainly can happen.