1. Overtime Heartbreaker
Playoff hockey is a different beast, and Game 2 was a battle right up until the crowd was sent into a frenzy with Orpik's overtime-winning goal.
It was a tough loss for the Canes, for sure, who fall down 2-0 in their first best-of-seven series in 10 years. The team battled hard, just as they have all season.
"At the end of the day, the guys give everything they had, and that's really all you can ask for," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said.
Twice the team fought back to tie the score after being down 2-0 in the first period and 3-2 in the third period. Resiliency has been a calling card of this team, especially since the new year. Now, they need to find a way to take and then play with a lead.
Video: CAR Recap: Hurricanes force OT, but lose Game 2
"It's really hard when you spot teams leads like we have in the last two games," Justin Williams said. "We battled back, but it's not enough."
Early in overtime, Evgeny Kuznetsov surveyed the scene from behind Petr Mrazek's net. Orpik snuck in from the point and blasted a one-timer past Teuvo Teravainen, who had given his stick to Brett Pesce, and Mrazek.
"We have to take all the positives," Mrazek said. "We played two hard games here. We battled hard."
"It's tough, but we'll pick ourselves up and get back at it for Game 3," Williams said.
2. Aho Awakens
Sebastian Aho found the back of the net for his first career playoff goal in the second period.
Williams' shot took a bounce off the end boards right to Aho, who popped the puck in from a tough angle along the near side of the net.
Video: CAR@WSH, Gm2: Aho banks rebound off Holtby and in
It was a critical goal for a number of reasons. One, it tied the score at two in what was one of the most heated periods of hockey these two teams have played. Two, it broke a goalless drought that spanned over a month for Aho, who had last scored on March 9 in Nashville.
"It's all about wins right now," Aho said, downplaying his statistics. "That's all that matters."
It's not like Aho hasn't contributed in some way in the last month - he recorded six assists in the final 14 games of the regular season - but the Canes need him and their other top players on the scoresheet in the goal column if they want to be successful in this series.
"It's not like we're playing bad, but this time of year, you've got to get that extra step and play even better," Aho said. "OK is not OK. We just have to try to play our best."
"We have to be better, our line in general," Williams said. "I haven't been good this series, and I think if you talk to our other top scorers, we need to be a lot better and we will be in Game 3."
"f we get those guys going, which they have all year, it will give us a better chance to win, that's for sure," Brind'Amour said. "We're hanging around, and I don't think we're playing our best hockey."
3. Mrazzle Dazzle
Mrazek made 29 saves in regulation, and he made a pair of stops late in the third period that saved the game. The first came when Tom Wilson got loose in the slot, and Mrazek knocked his chance away with the glove. The second was right at the buzzer, a shot from John Carlson that Mrazek kicked away with his left pad.
"He's been making those kinds of saves for us all year," Aho said. "That's what you need sometimes when there is a bad bounce or something."
Video: CAR@WSH, Gm2: Mrazek denies Wilson and Carlson late
Mrazek has been no stranger to clutch performances in the face of immense pressure all season. He's been up to the task in the first two games of this series, once again giving the Hurricanes a fighting chance.
"He made a few big saves for us just to get us to have a chance to win," Brind'Amour said. "I thought he was solid."
4. Winning the Special Teams Battle
In Game 1, the Hurricanes surrendered two power-play goals and could not convert on their own man advantages, including two they had in the third period with a chance to tie the game.
In Game 2, the Canes won the special teams battle, scoring once on five power plays and finishing a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
With exactly five minutes left in regulation, Jordan Staal redirected a point shot from Dougie Hamilton to notch a power-play marker and tie the game at three.
Video: CAR@WSH, Gm2: Staal redirects shot for PPG
Among the penalties the Canes killed was 4:09 of a five-minute major (more on that in the fifth takeaway) in the second period. That was a momentum swinger, until the Canes came up empty on 67 seconds worth of a 5-on-3 shortly after.
"The power play, we got one, but we missed out on a 5-on-3," Brind'Amour said. "That's a big turning point in the game for me."
Swinging the special teams pendulum in their favor is an encouraging sign for the Canes, though.
Not encouraging was the fact that they got outplayed 5-on-5 early in the game, when the Capitals took a 2-0 lead with goals from Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. The Hurricanes settled into their game about 10 minutes in, around the same time that Micheal Ferland leveled Carl Hagelin in open ice with a booming body check. Lucas Wallmark then redirected Jaccob Slavin's point shot to get the Canes on the board in the second half of the period.
Video: CAR@WSH, Gm2: Wallmark redirects shot past Holtby
5. Ferland Ejected for Controversial Hit
In the second period, the puck rolled off Nic Dowd's stick at right blue line, and Micheal Ferland rubbed him out with what was deemed an illegal check to the head. As a result, Ferland was assessed a match penalty.
Brind'Amour was, at the very least, not pleased with the call. His, um, discussion with referee Steve Kozari was heated, Brind'Amour's face becoming an ever-darker shade of Hurricanes red with every breath.
"I thought it was a good hit," Brind'Amour said after the game. "The first point of contact, for sure, is not his head. That's frustrating. You lose a player and have to kill a penalty."
Here's the thing: Brind'Amour was right. It wasn't a check to the head. The primary point of contact looked to be Ferland's midsection with Dowd's shoulder. Dowd's head planted on Ferland's back as a result of the collision.
"I saw him reach for the puck. I could have finished with my shoulder, but I didn't," Ferland said. "I came and hit him with my butt. I thought it was a clean hit, and I don't agree with the call."
Was it a penalty? Sure. Two minutes for interference, at most, since Ferland impeded Dowd's progress toward the puck. You can't fault Ferland for playing his brand of hockey, though, even considering how head contact (in this case, perceived head contact) is policed in today's game. But, was it a dirty hit worthy of a match penalty and subsequent suspension? Absolutely not, and it could have been much worse had Ferland not pulled up.
It was a bad call - the wrong call - and it cost the Hurricanes their most physical player in a series that is only ramping up in physicality.
"I don't think it was a dirty hit. I don't think I deserve to be suspended," Ferland said. "I take pride in my game of being a clean hitter. I never want to hurt anybody. I don't think it was a dirty hit."
This series now shifts to Raleigh for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Thursday, respectively.