Following last night’s 3-2 overtime win in game five at PNC Arena, the Hurricanes are one win away from winning their first-round series against the Nashville Predators and moving on to round two. They’ll look to close it out in game six in Nashville tomorrow night with their first road win of this postseason.
Rod Brind’Amour, Brett Pesce and Warren Foegele spoke to the media Wednesday evening, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On Jaccob Slavin: I thought he looked great and played great. Going forward, I’m avoiding him. I don’t want to know. I want to make sure he just gets out there. So I don’t want to ask, to be honest with you. He looked great to me, and until I hear otherwise, I’m going to leave him alone.
On Alex Nedeljkovic and his goalie use: We planned for game and then we were just going to assess and know that we had [Petr Mrazek]. We had [James Reimer] too but we kind of decided to go with those two guys. I had it all in my head that we’d probably go back and forth initially. And obviously Ned’s play just said ‘Hey, we can just keep him in there.’ So that’s kind of how it’s worked out.
On the Hurricanes’ attendance increase: We said that day one of this playoffs it felt great. The atmosphere is phenomenal. Anyone who’s lucky enough to be in there, whatever else is going on in the world, it all goes away. For those few hours that we’re in there, it feels like normal. It’s exciting. The crowds are just great. The energy that is in that building is phenomenal. It’s playoff hockey, for sure. It even feels a little more. I think everyone’s a little antsy, they wanted to let out a lot of steam. And they are, for sure.
On Martin Necas and his confidence: I don’t think he’s ever lacked for confidence, ever. Day one, he was trying to make plays. I think it’s always the other way, where you want him to realize that hey, we are on a big stage, you can’t always try these moves. But there’s a reason that you want to give these guys the freedom to do stuff and be those kind of players, and last night’s the reason. We need a big play, and he’s obviously the kind of player that can do it. [Andrei Svechnikov] is the same. We have those talented guys, you’ve got to kind of let them do their thing.
On if everyone came out of last night OK: I’m hoping we can roll the same group out.
On his biggest challenges as a coach in this series: I don’t know what the biggest challenge is. It always feels the same. It’s always getting your team ready and not worrying about what’s happened and not worrying about what’s ahead, it’s just keeping them in the moment. Because there’s been a lot of ups and downs in this series. So I think just keeping a level head and always looking forward, that next play, that next shift, regardless of what happens. So I think that’s always the challenge, but in playoff time I think it’s even more so.
On if the Canes’ mentality has changed: No. I think you kind of touched on that in game one. It doesn’t really matter who’s supposed to win or favored. When you get to this point, I think all that goes out the window. When you hit playoff time, I really believe that the only reason you’re saying that is because of the regular season. Everything changes when you get to the playoffs. Teams are at different stages in their season, and where they’re at health wise, all that stuff takes over and I think everyone starts fresh. So I don’t think there’s a favorite or not favorite, we’ve just got to go do our job.
On having Jaccob Slavin back: It’s huge. He’s one of our best players. Obviously everyone knows that he’s a world-class athlete and he’s also a leader on our team. So you can’t really replace a guy like that. And he was battling too. Obviously you know he’s dinged up a little bit, and the boys appreciate him coming back and fighting for us.
On not wanting to make a mistake at 4-on-4 in overtime: You don’t want to make a mistake, but at the same time, you’re out there for a reason. You try to score when you have the puck and then your coaches trust you to make plays because you do have that empty space or that more space available. So I don’t think you’re too timid when you’re out there, you’ve just got to kind of try and be as loose as you can and try to make things happen.
On if there were any changes on the penalty kill last night: To be honest, we haven’t really changed much all year. We just kind of stick with that aggressive theme when we’re all kind of working in tandem together. I think it’s hard to make plays around us.
On the toll of overtime: I think it’s just a little mentally fatiguing, but it’s not a big deal. It makes it that much more interesting, right, and better for the fans. I don’t mind it. Obviously I liked the outcome much better last night, but it would be nice to stay away from an overtime.
On the attendance increase: I actually just saw that before I got down here. That’s really exciting. Obviously I remember two years ago, playing in our arena and in front of a sold-out crowd. It’s hard to hear yourself, and it’s pretty cool to know that you have all those people backing you and cheering us on. So it’ll be exciting, but hopefully we don’t have to get to that.
On Alex Nedeljkovic: He’s quiet, he’s composed and he does his thing. He’s a pro. He’s a confident guy. We all know that, he knows that. You have to have that for any pro athlete, especially a goalie. He’s just been so solid for us all year, and he’s just continuing to do that.
On Nashville denying zone entries: They try to clog the neutral zone, and we’ve got to get pucks behind them and use our speed to get on them. I felt yesterday that maybe a bunch of us were trying to do a little too much and not keeping it simple. For us, it’s about playing simple, playing hard and fast, and when we do that, we’re way more successful.
On Alex Nedeljkovic: I think all three goalies have been great this year. Ned has a lot of confidence. I think one thing that really sticks out is his ability to play the puck. That makes a huge difference for our defensemen to give them more time. He’s been really solid. He’s just got to keep doing his thing and we’ll keep riding with him.
On the attendance increase: It’ll be wild, for sure. I just remember from a couple years ago how difficult it was to hear each other on the bench. I can imagine with more fans in the building that this place will be electric and we’ll be feeding off that energy.
On Jordan Staal’s overtime winner: He’s our leader. He’s a big-time player, and big-time players show up for big moments. It’s great to see that, and we all try to follow in [Staal]’s steps. Like I said, he’s our leader and it was great to see him get that.