RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes remain undefeated on home ice this postseason as they were carried by their stars to a huge 5-2 win in front of the home crowd. They maintain the chance to close the book on this series in Game 4 here in Raleigh on Friday.
The first chance of the game came when Teuvo Teravainen threw a puck high at the net that Nino Niederreiter got a stick blade on. He couldn’t get what would have been an amazing redirection on net.
But that line would eventually get rewarded for a great start to the game when Jaccob Slavin received the puck on the half wall and found Teravainen on the far side post, who made an incredible play to kick the puck out to his stick blade and stuff it in the net. The Canes took a 1-0 lead early thanks to a great sequence put together by two of the Hurricanes’ most outstanding players this postseason.
Just seconds later, Warren Foegele committed a high sticking penalty that sent the Islanders to the man-advantage. The top unit was snapping passes around in the offensive zone and turned one into a goal when Devon Toews fired one sent in a wrister from the blue line perfectly through the wickets of a screening Anders Lee. McElhinney hardly saw it, and it bulged the back of the net. The Islanders tied the game at 1-1.
Late in the period, Andrei Svechnikov almost made his mark early in his return to the lineup as Jordan Staal streaked into the zone and laid off a drop pass. Svechnikov rang an absolute laser off of the iron and out. The teams went into the first intermission tied at 1.
The Canes exited the room flying in the second period. Justin Williams came just about as close as you can to making the game 2-1 when he fired a puck from the high slot off of the left post.
The Islanders answered quickly with a huge chance of their own. They nearly took their second lead of the series when Nick Leddy came up with a big block on a shot from the blue line. The puck squirted out to Jordan Eberle, who flew down the ice and centered it back to an unmarked Leddy. He had a ton of net, but McElhinney sprawled out to make an absolutely unbelievable save to keep it tied.
A few minutes later Brock Nelson streaked into the slot and made easy work of the defending Faulk, who got a stick blade on Nelson’s hands and hampered a golden chance on net. He would sit two for hooking. But the kill came up big, limiting the Islanders a lot more effectively than they in the first odd-man situation.
As time died down on the advantage, McElhinney saved a shot low and Foegele flipped a beautiful aerial pass out to the neutral zone as Faulk exited the box. He batted it down with his hand at the blue line and skated in on a break away, beating Robin Lehner to the blocker side with a beautiful backhand.
But just like in the first period, the Islanders wasted no time in responding as Josh Bailey sniped one that beat McElhinney glove high to knot it up again.
The teams went into what may very well end up being the biggest period of the series tied at 2-2.
Neither team generated much offensively to begin the third frame — both appeared very hesitant to give up any defensive leverage for an offensive chance. The Canes’ best chance early in the period was a patented Svechnikov power move towards the net. While he barely beat the defense, he didn’t have much space to work and it was a relatively easy stop for Lehner.
With the game knotted up, the Hurricanes really needed a goal. Sebastian Aho rose to the occasion. Nino Niederreiter sent a cross-corner dump into the zone as the Foegele - Aho - Williams line was jumping on the ice, and Aho flew into the corner on the forecheck. Lehner collected it behind his net and tried to send it around the boards to his defenseman. Aho made an incredible play to bat the puck out of the air and center it to the ever-so-clutch Justin Williams, who buried it to give the Canes a 3-2 lead with just under 10 minutes to play.
The building came alive after that goal, and it wouldn’t stop until the final horn. Teravainen would ice the game with an empty net tally with just under a minute to play in the third period. Aho then piled on with another empty netter in the waning seconds.
5-2 Canes Win!
They Said It
That’s kind of what these games are. We coughed one up, they capitalized, bingo it goes in the net. Then they did the same. It’s a battle of wills, trying to create that one little gaffe. That’s kind of what happened.
[What were you able to do to play the way you wanted?] I was just talking with Chad LaRose, he said it was him coming out to crank the siren. I thought actually we were good all game. It looked more like our team all game. Yeah, we had some mistakes, and our goalie came up huge again when he had to. It was great to see Mac get in there and get that win. It felt a lot more like what we were trying to do, and in the third, we created that little turnover, got the goal, and you could feel the energy just switch again. I thought we were really solid.
They’re a team that does score quick, all year they’ve been great at that. We’ve talked about it - maybe a little too much, but I actually felt really good about the way we played, even right after we scored. I know they got it right back, but it didn’t ever feel like there was a big chunk of the game where we were on our heels, which was nice to see.
I think our system, our style of play, certainly promotes our D to jump in the play and make plays. [Slavin] has really matured as a player and I think he’s growing with confidence, leaps and bounds really. He is a great player, and I think he’s finally getting his notice. But all of our D were solid tonight, which was great. Obviously that’s the strength of our team. I think he’s very confident in himself and his ability. He can shake things off like nobody I’ve ever seen. Bad shift — no big deal, he’s ready to go the next one. Good shift — no big deal. He’s got a great focus and...again, he’s elite.
I’m so happy for [Mac]. He’s been a true professional, everywhere he’s been - here, obviously, and you cheer for guys like that, I don’t care if you like our team or not, everybody cheers for that guy. He’s put in his dues, he’s put in his time, and now he’s getting a chance to show it. Whether he’s 35 or 25 or whatever, it’s nice to see that guy get the opportunity and nice to see him excel.
[Svechnikov] was awesome. I wanted to play him more, but I couldn’t, because he was a little gassed. You can see the game shape wasn’t quite there. But he looked like a force out there. That’s a huge impact for us to be able to put him in the lineup. Martinook, too. Marty had a great game too. Those were two great additions. Obviously we lost Saku up front, but that was a huge plus for us.
[Williams] has been our leader all year, and just continues to impress. It’s not like he’s the best player out there, but he just finds ways. It’s special that we have him. I can’t say enough about him. He’s not getting his due because he’s already had it, but he’s our leader and we need that.
That’s just Sebastian just doing Sebastian things. Hunting the puck down, knocking it out of the air, throwing it in front of me. Listen, it was probably my worst chance of the night, and that one ended up going in. Funny how that works sometimes, but obviously a big goal for us.
It feels good - I’m going to say all the right things here. We’re up 3-0, the last one’s the hardest, and it always is when the other team’s backs are against the wall. We certainly don’t want to go back there, if we have to we will, but we’re going to work our tails off to hopefully get it done in four.
It’s electric. I thought after we scored our third goal we really took the game over and didn’t allow them any opportunities whatsoever. That’s big, and we rode off the crowd momentum after that with everyone standing up and cheering. This place is electric. An extremely loud building, and it’s definitely a home-ice advantage.
We got some rest, which was important. And the fact that we rolled four lines tonight, Roddy deployed everybody and I think that was a big key in the third period as well. Everybody was fresh.
[On McElhinney:] I don’t feel surprised at all. It’s what he does. Am I extremely proud and giddy for him? Absolutely. I’ll show some emotion if he’s not, because he’s going to be pretty stoic and not give you much, but awesome for him. We’re proud of him. He’s such a great team guy. I can’t say enough good things about him, so I’ll stop there.
[On Slavin:] He’s gone to another level, absolutely. He’s been a phenomenal defender, and because he’s defending so well he’s getting opportunities offensively. He just seems like he’s feeling it. We want to ride that as long as we can, because he’s one of the most underrated guys in the league for sure. [He’s changing diapers at two in the morning too.] Hey man, he’s got dad strength now.
“We keep focusing and we keep playing game by game. We knew that they were going to put everything in this game, so we knew we’ve got to be ready and I think we were. They got a few more chances — too many chances I think at some point — but we battled through and [McElhinney] played awesome.”
“I feel like the last period has been our best a lot of games, and we just keep grinding. I feel like we get our legs and body moving at the end.”
“[Playing in PNC Arena] is pretty awesome. The fans here are so loud, and it’s so exciting to play. I feel like it’s tough for other teams to come here now. We just get a lot of energy.”
“Against the Caps, we were chasing all series, and it was tough to come from behind against a really good team. But no we’re ahead of them, so we can set the pace and control the game.”
“Its been feeling like this for a long time. We have a special group and it’s just so fun to be here — the joking and everything in the locker room. It’s just awesome.”
“We just kept playing the same way. You could hear the crowd really get into it after that [Justin Williams’ goal], and we really fed off that. We were in their end the rest of the period, and we really embraced that crowd there.”
“It’s a lot of fun when that building’s rocking. Everyone’s getting goosebumps on the bench and you can’t even hear each other. You just want to make the fans proud, and of course we’re doing this for each other. Like I said, there’s just no quit in this team.”
On Faulk’s breakaway goal from Foegele’s aerial pass:
“[Faulk] is maybe a wide receiver too, huh? I just saw him coming out of the box, and I just tried to flick it over him. It was a great play by him to catch it and it was a really gross goal.”
“It was a pretty tight game out there from both teams. There weren’t a lot of grade A scoring chances.”
“[The postseason] been pretty hectic, a lot of travel. But it’s been awesome, it’s definitely a blessing from the lord.”
“I’ve been sticking with the plan, obviously that’s what [Rod Brind’Amour] has been preaching for us, and as a team, and a group in here, that’s what we’re trying to do. We trust the guys in this locker room and we believe in each other.”
On Curtis McElhinney:
“Oh it’s awesome, obviously it’s a great story, and he’s a great teammate and a heck of a guy. So nothing but excitement for him.”
“Obviously, it’s a big motivation, we want to be able to close it out. But we just take it one game at a time here. It’s just another huge game that’s going to come up, and obviously if we can win, that’s great. But that’s the goal, just get the win.”
[Svechnikov] is a special player. Obviously, he was big for us all year, and so just to watch him do his thing out there — he’s a big physical body with a lot of skill. So I think he’s just going to continue to get more dangerous as this goes on.”
On his offensive game this postseason:
I’m just trying to do things right and do things hard. Obviously, a lot of guys are scoring for me, so guys are doing well too.”
- The Canes have now won all four of their playoff games on home turf this postseason. They’ve won seven of their last eight games.
- Teuvo Teravainen had an outstanding game. He got the Canes on the board in the first period with a nifty pass from Slavin, which he was able to kick towards the net and finish.
- Speaking of Slavin — he has tallied 12 assists this postseason after picking up two tonight, one short of Frantisek Kaberle’s franchise record for defenseman scoring in the postseason (and in less than half the number of games). He’s always been an offensively gifted player, and it seems like he’s finally getting the bounces that he deserves. And he’s been the team’s best blue liner on the defensive side of the puck (per usual). What a coming out party.
- The team will have a limited practice tomorrow at noon, followed by limited media availability.