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Game 2 Recap: Canes Strike Twice Early in Third to Edge Islanders

Foegele, Niederreiter help Canes capture 2-0 series lead

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

BROOKLYN - The Carolina Hurricanes scored two goals in the first 65 seconds of the third period to erase a 1-0 deficit and defeat the New York Islanders, 2-1, in Game 2.

Warren Foegele tied the game, and, shortly after, Nino Niederreiter tipped in what held up as the game-winning goal to give the Hurricanes a commanding 2-0 advantage in this Second Round series.

Here are five takeaways from Game 2.

1. Fighting Through Adversity

Nothing seemed to be going right for the Hurricanes in Game 2 - until it did, in an instant.

The Hurricanes trailed the Islanders 1-0 heading into the third period. The Canes had lost a defenseman to injury on his first shift of the game, and their starting goaltender exited in the second period.

It seemed like it was just going to be one of those afternoons.

But that's not these Hurricanes. These Hurricanes are resilient. They fight until the final whistle. They pick each other up and come together to find a way when they need to most.

"This group just battles for each other," Foegele said. "It's basically like a family."

"I know it's hard work. I know that. There's no other way to describe went on tonight from our perspective. We just gutted it out. We were losing guys," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "They were just playing hard."

The message after the second period was no different than it's been all season: stick with it. The Canes didn't change anything about their game. They just believed they could get it done.

And they did.

"We were playing hard, but things just weren't going our way," Jaccob Slavin said. "We just stuck to our game."

The Hurricanes came to Brooklyn looking for a split and leave with two wins. Being down 0-2 just a series ago, they know this best-of-seven slate is far from over. But, they've taken two big steps toward the next round with a pair of wins on the road.

"Guys in this room are excited," Slavin said. "We're just going to keep doing what we've been doing."

"It's huge taking two on the road, but we've got to focus, regroup and worry about the next game," Foegele said. "Last series, we were down 2-0 and knew we had to come back. They're definitely thinking that right now. Come with the same mindset and expect them to come out hard."

2. Quick Strikes

It took just 17 seconds into the third period for the Hurricanes to draw the score even at one.

Lucas Wallmark hit Foegele with a stretch pass off the boards, and from the right circle, Foegele snapped a shot over Robin Lehner's blocker shoulder, very similar in nature to Jordan Staal's goal from Game 7 in Washington that tied the game in the third period.

Video: CAR@NYI, Gm2: Foegele's blistering wrister ties it

"You live for these moments. You want to contribute any way you can," Foegele said. "There's no reason not to shoot that there."

The goal was Foegele's team-leading fifth of the postseason, already half of what the rookie scored in 77 regular-season games.

"I love the kid," Brind'Amour said. "He's earned his right. … It's great to see him having success right now."

Just 48 seconds later, the Hurricanes struck again. Curling with the puck at the point, Teuvo Teravainen sent a shot toward the net through all sorts of traffic. Niederreiter was one of those bodies, and he got his stick on the shot to change the trajectory of the puck and beat Lehner.

Video: CAR@NYI, Gm2: Niederreiter breaks tie with deflection

Niederreiter's first goal of the postseason gave the Hurricanes their first lead on the road of these playoffs.

"It was exciting. From that third period, I thought our energy was good," Foegle said. "You could feel on the bench how much that goal meant. We were able to gut out the rest of the period."

3. Mrazek Out, McElhinney In

Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney were an effective 1-2 punch (or, 1a-1b punch, if you will) in net for the Hurricanes, especially during their remarkable run in the second half of the season.

Mrazek cemented himself as the starter for the postseason with spectacular play in the last few weeks of the regular season, but the Canes knew they had two solid options in net.

When the Canes had to turn to McElhinney in the second period, then, it wasn't as much of a concern as it might typically be when a team has to swap goaltenders midway through a 1-0 road playoff game.

Mrazek exited the game due to a lower-body injury after playing just over 21 minutes. Even before he came to the bench, the Canes knew something was up.

Video: CAR@NYI, Gm2: Mrazek exits with apparent injury

"When he came to the bench, you could just see on his face that he was dejected," Brind'Amour said. "He definitely wanted to be a part of this. Hopefully it's not too serious."

One of the many Barclays Center quirks places the backup goaltender in the visiting team tunnel instead of on the bench. At the time, McElhinney was on the other side of the ice, but he could also tell Mrazek was in some distress.

"He just looked a little off, shaking his one leg. He wasn't right," McElhinney said. "I figured I was going in there at that point. You just grab your helmet and go."

It was the first time this season - regular season or playoffs - that the Hurricanes had to make a mid-game goaltending change. Enter one of the most cool, calm and collected guys on the team, someone who has been there before and is now the first goaltender in NHL history to make his first three postseason appearances with three different teams.

Video: CAR@NYI, Gm2: McElhinney makes back-to-back saves

"That was huge. It's pretty hard to come off from the bench," Foegele said. "Both our goalies this year have been unbelievable. I'm not surprised to see Mac play like that."

"Mac has been great all year, so there was no, 'Oh, no, we've got to put that guy in,'" Brind'Amour said. "We were dropping like flies, and now your goalie goes down. Certainly love the fact that we had Mac sitting there waiting to rock and roll."

McElhinney was the goaltender of record when the Hurricanes took the lead, so he earned the win after stopping all 17 shots he faced (and the iron taking care of the two that got behind him).

4. More Injuries Pile Up

Mrazek, unfortunately, was just one of the Canes' many casualties in Game 2.

On his first shift of the game, Trevor van Riemsdyk skated behind his own net to retrieve the puck. Cal Clutterbuck lined him up and crunched him along the end boards, and van Riemsdyk skated back to the bench favoring what looked to be his shoulder. At the next whistle stop, van Riemsdyk skated down the tunnel for further evaluation and did not return with what was deemed an upper-body injury.

Brind'Amour said after the game that van Riemsdyk is "definitely not coming back any time soon."

Saku Maenalanen left the game with an upper-body injury in the third period and did not return, and Brind'Amour did not have a further update on him or Mrazek to pass along.

"Each game, someone goes down, and everyone knows they need to step up," Foegele said. "That's basically been the season."

Injuries are ravaging the Canes' lineup, so this two-day break before Game 3 on Wednesday could be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Plus, the Canes seem to be close to getting some bodies back into their lineup.

Jordan Martinook, who gutted out a lower-body injury in Games 6 and 7 of the First Round, couldn't go for Game 1 on Friday. Martinook skated in warm-ups on Sunday but was ultimately held out of the lineup for a second straight game.

Andrei Svechnikov, who has been in the concussion protocol since Game 3 of the First Round, is inching closer to a return as soon as he feels comfortable responding to on-ice contact.

Micheal Ferland, who has been sidelined with an upper-body injury, is also in the mix to return in the near future.

"It is a war of attrition a lot of the time in the playoffs," Brind'Amour said. "We expect to win, and our leaders don't let whoever is going out there next take a breath."

5. Power Play Still Searching

The blemish of an 0-for-3 finish on the power play could have been the unfortunate difference in such a closely matched game that saw the Hurricanes struggle to generate much offensive through two periods, especially given that the Islanders scored their only goal on the power play.

Instead, it's nothing much than a concerning footnote in a win the Hurricanes will gladly take.

The Canes' man advantage is just 3-for-32 in the postseason and has failed to convert in six straight games, even though the team is 5-1 in that stretch. On Sunday, the Hurricanes went without a shot on their first power play and saw the Islanders, via a Mathew Barzal centering pass that deflected in off Slavin's stick, convert on their first opportunity. Then, the Canes flushed away 85 seconds of 5-on-3 time.

That could have been the nail in their offensive coffin for the afternoon, but luckily, the Canes were able to overcome losing the special teams battle. Still, the power play will need to be snappier and shaper moving forward.

Up Next

This series will now shift to Raleigh for Games 3 and 4 on Wednesday and Friday, respectively.

"We've got to take it day by day," Foegele said. "We know they're going to be real hungry coming into the next game, and our focus is to regroup and then focus on Game 3."

"It's huge going back to PNC with our crowd," Slavin said. "It's going to be a tough building for them to play in. Hopefully the fans let them know."

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