That was a check that games three and four failed to cash.
The series switched back to Raleigh and PNC Arena, where the Flyers put together a very strong showing in game three before the Hurricanes blew the doors off of Alain Vigneault’s bunch in game four.
For more information about how this series works, please refer to part one.
Here’s how Carolina’s two home games went down, according to the NHL 20 simulation engine.
Fresh off a game-breaking performance in game two to tie the series, Flyers captain Claude Giroux was stellar again back in Raleigh.
He opened the scoring just over six minutes into the first period. Off a stretch pass from Matt Niskanen, Giroux sold the pass on a two-on-one rush before firing a quick-released snap shot over the glove of Petr Mrazek.
His line, featuring Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek, dominated the first period and ultimately scored the decisive goal in the game in the early stages of period two.
A lengthy board battle in the Canes zone was won by Giroux and led to extended offensive zone possession time for the Flyers. Voracek danced to the middle of the zone and sent a wrist shot off of the crossbar before Couturier won a race to the net with Joel Edmundson and whacked home the rebound in front to extend Philadelphia’s lead to 2-0.
You’d expect a serious push back from the Hurricanes here, down 2-0 in game three on home ice. That’s not how it panned out, though. Rod Brind’Amour’s group had one of their worst all-around games in recent memory, and they couldn’t manage to piece things together as the second period wore on.
Carolina’s best chance of the period came with 5:51 left in the middle frame. Teuvo Teravainen made an excellent individual play along the boards to gain space and break in on Carter Hart. He sauced a perfect pass through the legs of Robert Hagg and onto the tape of Andrei Svechnikov, who sent a shot off of the near-side post and out of play.
That felt like a dagger at the time, and that proved to be the case.
The Flyers came out with tons of energy in the third period, storming out to a 5-1 lead in shots through the first four minutes. Mrazek was very good in the third period, keeping his team within shouting distance.
The Hurricanes did very little to make good on Mrazek’s effort, though. They had an opportunity to get on the board thanks to a great shift from the Jordan Staal line just under halfway through the period. They managed three shots on goal during the sequence, and two of them were high-danger. Hart had the answers, though.
At 15:21, the Flyers put the game away.
The Hurricanes were pressing hard, and that aggression came at the expense of their team defense. Ivan Provorov chipped the puck out of the Philadelphia end of the ice, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel swooped in off of a line change to carry it in on a long breakaway and slide it through the legs of Mrazek to make it a 3-0 game.
The Hurricanes took a very small moral victory late in the game. Justin Williams beat Hart on a quick backdoor tap-in goal with less than a minute on the clock, but that was all she wrote in game three.
With the win, the Flyers took a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Hart was very good in net, stopping 25 of the 26 shots he faced. Mrazek was tasked with a heavy workload, and he did all he could to keep the Canes in the game. He ended up stopping 38 shots.
The Hurricanes found themselves in a must-win game four at PNC Arena, and with the pressure turned up, they played their best game of the series.
43 seconds into the game, the Canes broke the ice. Dougie Hamilton directed a beautiful pass off of the glass and onto the streaking stick of Warren Foegele. Foegele flew down the right wing, powered to the front of the net, and scored a vintage Erik Cole power goal to make it 1-0.
Not even a minute later, the Hurricanes scored again.
At the 1:33 mark, Jake Gardiner flung a low-danger, long-range wrist shot on Hart, but the young goalie booted the rebound right to Sebastian Aho on the doorstep. Aho scored on the open net and gave the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead.
The Canes added one more goal to their first-period total at 13:48. Jaccob Slavin made an amazing play to steal the puck in his defensive zone, skate the puck out of danger and through the neutral zone, and establish offensive zone possession before tapping the puck off of the boards and onto the stick of Svechnikov, who slowly walked the puck in and fired a gorgeous near-side snipe by Hart to make it 3-0.
It was a combination of Carolina’s best period of the series and Philadelphia’s worst period of the series that rendered a 3-0 score through twenty minutes, and it didn’t get much more competitive from there.
The Flyers had a strong early second period push, but that ended with just one strong rush from the Hurricanes. Jordan Staal crashed the net and deposited a rebound from a Foegele shot to make it 4-0 early in the second period.
Late in the second period, Haydn Fleury scored his first NHL playoff goal off of a point shot that deflected off of Justin Braun and underneath the crossbar. That made it 5-0.
The only real story left in play for the third period was Mrazek’s shutout bid. The Czech goalie continued his huge postseason in style, making eight saves in the third period and preserving his clean-sheet.
He also found the scoresheet late in the game when he broke the puck out of his own zone to Gardiner, who hit Jordan Martinook for an odd-man rush goal. Martinook’s tally was the last one of the game, and it extended Carolina’s huge lead to six goals.
Game four was a convincing and dominant bounce-back effort for the Hurricanes, who tied the series up at two games apiece.
The series will switch back to Philadelphia for game five, where the Canes will look to maintain the momentum they mounted in game four.