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Systems Analyst: It’s A Series Now

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The Canes’ transition play set up both goals, evening the series.

Jamie Kellner

The Carolina Hurricanes evened their series with the Washington Capitals on Thursday night, holding Washington’s potent offense at bay in a 2-1 victory.

It certainly was not the dominating performance seen in game three. The Canes were outshot and played on their heels for large chunks of game four. Backstopped again by Petr Mrazek, the Canes survived, taking advantage of the few opportunities they had and capitalizing in their transition game.

The opening goal came a mere 17 seconds into the contest, propelled by a Jaccob Slavin rush. Slavin speeds through the neutral, runs a quick give-and-go with Justin Williams and finds playoff legend Warren Foegle for an easy tap in.

The Caps actually had numbers back that could have handled the aggressive Hurricanes’ rush, but Nicklas Backstrom stops skating, instead choosing to watch the play develop, leaving Matt Niskanen to cover both Slavin and Foegle.

Brooks Orpik received lots of flak on social media for his role in the Teravainen game-winner, but it was a mistake he made earlier that allowed the play to unfold. Orpik began his shift with 1:36 left in the second period. The Williams-Staal-Foegle line then established an extended shift in the Capitals’ zone. Finally, nearly a minute into his shift Orpik carries the puck to center and dumps it behind Petr Mrazek.

Instead of a soft chip into the corner which would take more time for the Hurricanes to retrieve, and therefore allow all of the Caps to change, Orpik hard rims the puck and Dougie Hamilton quickly begins Carolina’s transition game. That doesn’t leave Orpik enough time to change, meaning he must stay on at the end of a long shift against Carolina’s fresh legs. Sebastian Aho protects the puck well before handing off to Nino Niederreiter. Niederreiter finds Teravainen streaking for the late second period goal. Hamilton doesn’t get an assist on the play, but it’s his quick decision making that sets up the transition chance.

Orpik’s fatigue is on full display. He stares at the puck, drifting too far to the wall and is unable to move his feet enough to recover. Because of Orpik’s hard rim dump in, the Washington backcheckers did not have time to chase down Teravainen from their bench.

The Hurricanes didn’t have many high quality chances in game four, but took advantage of Washington mistakes, turning them into transition offense and making the Caps pay to even the series.