After a heartbreaking loss in game three of their first-round series with the Nashville Predators, the Carolina Hurricanes suffered an… arguably even more heartbreaking loss in game four, falling 4-3 in double overtime. The series is now even at two games apiece heading back to Raleigh for game five Tuesday.
Rod Brind’Amour, Brock McGinn (who scored two goals) and Jordan Martinook spoke to the media after the game four loss, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On if there are any issues with how the team is playing: I thought we were playing great. I felt like we had to play most of the game in overtime, it felt like we were in their end. It was just one of those things. Eventually, they were going to score if we don’t score if we don’t score and we couldn’t find a way to get one. I love the way our guys are playing.
On missing Jaccob Slavin: There’s no question. He’s one of the best players in the league. You take him out of anybody’s lineup, you’re going to miss him, especially when you play basically another game and a bit, it’s going to show up. So it’s part of it, but injuries are a big, big part of playoff hockey, and I think our guys have stepped up great that have had to fill in his shoes. So other than tonight, obviously the power play we’ve got to score there, that’s the difference in the game, but everything else, I was really happy with, especially the effort everyone gave tonight.
On converting the chances and beating Juuse Saros: He’s playing well. Obviously, you’d like to get there more. They’ve got big D, they do a nice job not giving us the seconds. But overall, I think it was a real solid game, same as the other night. I think we’re digging in and doing what we have to do to get the opportunities, which is all we can do, and their goalie’s playing great. So it’s part of it.
On the spirit of the team: Of course, they’re crushed. You play your butts off like that and I think we were the better team in that game. You want better. You feel like you deserve better. It doesn’t work that way, as we know. So we have to, as a group, regroup and come back. It’s a cliche, but what’s done is done and we’re moving on. We’ll try to get better in this off day a little bit. If we take that game back to the next game, I’ll feel pretty good about it.
On Juuse Saros: Guys can win you games, and that happens. But over a seven-game series, if you just keep kind of knocking on the door, eventually you’ll get your goals and we had our goals tonight. To me, we needed to connect on that power play, we had a few. We had some good looks and [Saros] was good, but we’ve got to find a way to count there.
On Alex Nedeljkovic and the way he bounced back from Nashville’s second goal: It’s great. I think the next shift we gave up a 2-on-0 and he made a great save and made another great save, it was a high stick, but no one knew it was going to be a high stick. He was great. Of course, he’d like to have that one back, but that’s what happens. The breaks kind of didn’t go our way tonight. It wasn’t for a lack of effort.
On managing the team’s recovery after those two games: There’s not much you can do. Get home, hopefully, they’ll get some sleep, bring them in, maybe show them a few things and what we can tweak here or there. There’s really not a lot that needs to be said and not a lot that needs to be done. We’ve got to replicate that kind of game and I feel pretty good if we do.
On how the team needs to respond after two devastating losses: I think we gotta keep our heads held high here. It’s a long series, and now it’s a best-of-three. We gotta go home, regroup, look at the film, see what we can improve on, and keep our heads held up high and win the next game.
On what goes through a player’s mind as another game goes to double overtime: You want to go out and play the exact same way you have the whole game. You’re trying to limit their chances as well as you’re trying to finish the game. The way you do that is by keeping it simple and going out there and playing our style of game and wear them down. Unfortunately, we didn’t come out with these two wins here, but we get to go home, regroup, and go back to PNC.
On the frustration in getting so many shots, but not getting the results: It’s definitely a tough pill to swallow. Losing in overtime is never fun, but I think we went out and played a good game. I think we got a lot of puck to the net, so we just have to keep playing the way we are. Hopefully, we get those bounces. We just can’t get away from our game.
On the physical and mental toll of the last two games: It’s definitely draining. It’s disappointing losing those two, but they’re out there playing just as much as we are. We’re both in the same situation. We get a day tomorrow to recover and regroup and come back the day after.
On how much of it is a mental hurdle late in those games and what the mood was postgame: It’s a tough pill to swallow. You never want to lose in overtime. You work so hard to get it into double overtime, and to lose both of them is not easy. This group has been here before. We just have to regroup and go out and play the next game.
On Alex Nedeljkovic’s effort: He’s a wall back there. He gives us a chance to win every night. All three of our goalies this year have done an incredible job. Whoever’s in the net, they’ll go out there and give us a chance. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get these two for Ned, but we just have to go back and get PNC rocking and try to get the next one.
On the disappointment in not getting that win for Nedeljkovic: It is for everybody. We battled hard. It can go either way when you’re in that situation, and they got two here. In overtime, it’s the flip of a coin. Whoever gets a chance and buries it. Obviously, we wanted to get it for Ned, but we wanted to get it for everyone out there battling. Pesce and Skjei, the last two games, have played like 80 minutes of hockey between the two of them. There are guys playing huge minutes and doing a lot of things and we want to get it for them and our goalie, too.
On the importance of not getting too up or down in a series: It’s the playoffs. You want to win at home. They obviously took care of business and won their two games at home. We were in overtime, it could’ve gone either way in both games. It’s tied, but we played really good tonight and I thought we played good the other night, too. It’s just the nature of the beast when you get to overtime. It’s whoever gets that chance.
On what needs to be done in order to right the ship for game five: Just stick with what we’re doing. If you watch that game, it’s evident of what makes us successful. We get in on the forecheck and start rumbling around and take pucks to the net and get pucks low to high. It’s a recipe for success. We’re wearing them down and that’s what we want to do. They’re gonna score goals, but we need to stick with what we do and what makes us successful. That’s all we need to do. We’re right there. It’s two overtime games, it can go either way. We’re right there.
On the frustration in not being able to score more after getting so many shots: He’s playing well, so we need to get in front of him more and get more traffic there and make it hard on him. When you get worried is when the chances aren’t coming. We’re getting the chances. They’re there. We have a skilled team. If we keep getting those chances, they’ll eventually go in. I like our chances if we keep getting them and keep doing what we’re doing. We lost these two, but we’re right there. It’s the flip of a coin in overtime. I like where we’re at. We’ll be okay.
On the importance of home ice: Look at the first two games. It’s two really good fan bases that take a lot of pride in getting their building rocking. I have no doubt the Caniacs are sitting back home biting their fingernails, getting ready to tear the roof off of that place. It’s two really passionate fan bases going at it. It’s fun to hear it. They got it rocking, and we know what PNC can do. We can’t wait to get back in front of them and get us juiced us up.
On what the mood is in the locker room after the game: It’s not frustration. It’s a shot. They got the two shots they needed in those games. Obviously, we’re frustrated, we don’t want to lose. If we get those shots, then the series is over. They did what they had to do. They held court. Now we have to go home and do what we need to do and hold court. Keep at the grind and keep doing what we’re doing.