Thanks to an overtime winner from Jordan Staal, goal and two assists from Sebastian Aho, goal from Brett Pesce and 35 saves from Petr Mrazek, the Canes are on the board in their second round series with the Tampa Bay Lightning following a 3-2 overtime win Thursday night.
Aho, Pesce, Mrazek and Rod Brind’Amour spoke to the media following the win, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On the Canes fighting through adversity: Like I said all year, I’m always proud of the group. Whatever happens to them, they just seem to find a way to focus on the game and go do their job. That’s what happened tonight.
On making the switch to Mrazek: He had no chance on those goals at all. Just weird bounces that ended up on the great players’ sticks, they’re not going to miss those. He was good. Did I expect him to be like that? I didn’t really know what to expect, to be honest with you, he’d been out for so long. But he’s a battler.
On the battle between Aho and Nikita Kucherov: He’s very competitive. I think that’s why if you’ve listened to us talk about him over the years. That’s what I love about him. He wants to get better, but he’s super competitive. He wants to win. He wants to win so bad, and that’s what you’re seeing, for me, is that competitive edge. That’s what you’re seeing from him, for me. It doesn’t really matter who he’s playing against. He wants to be the best, and he’s willing to do what he has to do to be the best. I think that’s what’s going to make him better and better as the years go on.
On Warren Foegele’s injury: I’m not sure how that’s going to shake out. I don’t know if he got X-rayed. There was something that he did in between periods. He came out and tried it and it obviously didn’t go so well. We’ll hopefully know more tomorrow.
On the similarities to game three against Montreal in 2006: It’s hard for me to remember much. All I’ll tell you is back then we were down and out. This game we were up 2-0 and were going pretty good and all of the sudden it turned on a time. But again, we had some timely saves and some big, big play by the whole group. Everybody dug in. We got a win that we deserved. I don’t know if we were the better team, that’s debatable, but overall, I think we got something that we deserved to be in this series, to be back.
On Jordan Staal: What I love about it is everybody’s getting to see what he’s all about this year. Hopefully we can continue on and he can keep playing the way he’s playing. He was great again tonight. He had a great chance in overtime shorthanded. When you have a guy that plays in all situations and you rely on so much, the value of this guy is off the charts. And then he’s your leader too, so he’s doing it right on and off the ice. You’ve heard me talk about him at length. There’s really not much more that needs to be said.
On if the game was feistier: I don’t know it was more or less. There were a little more debatable things, things that you’re questioning. I think that came into play a little more, but I didn’t really notice anything else.
On Teuvo Teravainen: The only chance we have to beat these guys is everybody has to play at their top. We’re not going to be able to do it if [Teravainen]’s average or [Aho] is average. We won’t beat them. So he knows that. I thought he was great tonight. He’s a guy we count on to do everything. He was solid, and there’s no way around it. We need him to be like that if we want to have a chance.
On how he felt watching the playoffs and getting his chance tonight: I felt pretty good. It’s all about preparation. I was just trying to be ready as much as possible and see if I get a game. I’m happy that I got one and we won tonight.
On scrambling to make saves: I haven’t seen a few pucks going through, so I just tried to read the play, read the game well and that was the key tonight.
On when he was told he would start: I just talked with [goalie coach Paul Schonfelder] yesterday and he just said it’s my game and we would go from there.
On if he felt pressure: I wouldn’t call it pressure. It’s fun to play, especially in the playoffs. Those moments are forever and right now, especially with a full building, fans and everything, I wouldn’t say pressure. You go there, you’re having fun. You’re trying to do the best you can, win the games and help the team.
On if the pressure shifts to Tampa Bay: We have to take it game by game. We can see those games are so tight, one goal decides the winner, so we just have to prepare for the next game. Don’t talk about pressure, just go there and play the game.
On the mindset in the locker room heading into overtime: We were pretty confident. We knew we had to kill the penalty early on and just take over. Eventually those penalties usually even out and we were able to score on our power play which is always huge. I think we felt pretty confident that we could kill that penalty and then just do our job and start playing our own game 5-on-5.
On Petr Mrazek being hot: He made some huge saves tonight. Obviously you’re banking on your goalie and I had no doubt in my mind that he was going to be good tonight. He was himself out there, made some huge saves and gave us a chance to win the game.
On how the win feels: Feels great obviously, but at the same time, it was only our first win in the series. We just have to keep going to Game 4 and just do it over and over again and trust our system. But it obviously feels good to win.
On his battles with Nikita Kucherov: It’s just the matchup. We’ve been playing his line against my line all three games. We see each other a lot out there every game and it’s playoff hockey. It’s nothing more than that.
On the game-winning goal and finding the open space to get off the shot: Before that happened, we won a lot of puck battles. All five of us kept the puck in and that’s the key. You have to get those seconds and thirds and we had a couple of good looks before that goal. It’s not something you practice too often though. It’s just Teravainen. I know that he has great vision out there and he can definitely see those plays. I saw a little opening in the high-slot, went there and I got a pretty good shot out of it and obviously the big man at the hoop. That’s what you need there. Traffic at the net. Just happy we got that goal.
On getting the first goal: Scoring the first goal is somewhat big. It’s always nice to score the first one, but I felt that we were ready even if they had scored the first goal. We were pretty mentally sharp today. Mentally strong to go into tonight’s game and that’s why I think that we got the win. We were ready no matter what and just kept going and doing our own job.
On the blindside hit by Nikita Kucherov and if the game seemed more physical than the first two: It probably had a little more physicality to the game. I took a hit up high. I felt it was a little, I don’t know, dirty, but it’s playoff hockey. The NHL required me to go through all the concussion testing. But I’m fine. It’s good.
On the key to killing the final Tampa Bay power play: We just had to try to stick with it. Just remain aggressive on them. If you look at the personnel on their power play, it’s a tough challenge for us. They’re going to score. We just have to do our best to try and take away some of their time and space and I feel on the last kill we did a better job of that.
On ranking this game on the scale of gutsy wins: It’s at the top, right? Just so proud of everyone on our team. We get kicked, punched in the face over and over with tough bounces and we just stick with it. Kudos to our team and Roddy for keeping on relaying that message. We just kept at it and the power play came up big for us.
On Petr Mrazek’s performance: Huge game by him. Both of those goals, I don’t think he had a chance on. But he was incredible. That says a lot about him. He didn’t start the playoffs because Ned’s been so good. We have two number ones. Proud of Petr and couldn’t be happier for him to kind of just stick with it and kind of wait for his turn. He was huge for us tonight.
On Sebastian Aho: We know that he’s a star. He’s a world class player and he seems to always come through for us. He’s our best player and he definitely showed it tonight.
On angry and chippy games: It’s playoff hockey for a reason. There’s a reason why it’s the hardest trophy to win. Obviously you have two teams where it’s just 20 guys on each side who are just super competitive and are going to do whatever they can to win. That makes it way more fun for us.