2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs game previews are presented by Visit Raleigh.
The Carolina Hurricanes come back to Raleigh in search of their first victory against the Washington Capitals in their first-round series.
The Capitals took a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven slate with a 4-2 win in Game 1 and a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 2.
"We're right there," Jordan Staal said. "It's been tight games and close games. There's just a few little things, and that's the difference."
"How do we reverse it? We just have to play better and play our game," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "That will give us a chance, for sure."
Lessons from Game 2
Though the result was the same, Game 2 was the opposite of Game 1 in some ways. In Game 1, the Hurricanes dominated 5-on-5 play, especially early, but lost the special teams battle, which included surrendering a pair of power-play goals in the first period. In Game 2, the Capitals came out flying to take a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes, but the Hurricanes won the special teams battle, scoring a power-play goal to tie the game late in regulation and killing off all four of the Capitals' chances on the man advantage.
"I just think we weren't as dialed in as we needed to be, and I think they, on the other hand, knew they needed to start better," Brind'Amour said of Saturday's matinee. "It just felt like we were chasing it and killing penalties. Somehow after the second period we were tied, which kind of felt weird. [Monday] is a new game."
GAME 3 PROJECTED LINEUP
A blend of the Hurricanes' 5-on-5 play from Game 1 with their special teams effort in Game 2 will give them a chance to score their first victory of the series in Game 3.
"You just try to believe that when we play our best, we have a better chance to win," Sebastian Aho said.
One Game at a Time
Not unlike their approach to the entire last half of the season, the Hurricanes have to take this series one game at a time. A win in Game 3 could shift the tides, but the Canes can't look beyond that. Not yet.
"I'd love to see our best and then see what happens," Brind'Amour said.
In order for the Hurricanes to be successful, they need their top players to step up more offensively. Aho and Staal each scored a goal in Game 2, but a handful of offensive difference-makers remain off the scoresheet through the first two games of the series.
"We've got to be better offensively. We haven't done what we wanted to. Between myself and Turbo and Ferls, we'd like to be better offensively," Staal said. "You've got to work for your chances against that team. We'll do our best."
"They're not getting the chances or creating enough, and they're giving up too much. That's not a good recipe. Those guys have found a way all year to figure it out," Brind'Amour said. "Our top guys have to show up. Otherwise, it's going to be real, real tough."
Make Some Noise
A group of cheering, chanting fans greeted the Hurricanes at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Saturday night, a precursor of what's to come in Games 3 and 4.
"It gives you a little extra energy there to see that people care about us and are behind us," Aho said. "It definitely feels nice."
"Really cool. Our fans have been great," Staal said. "We're excited to play in front of them and hopefully give them a good show."
Playoff hockey will make its return to PNC Arena for the first time in 10 years, and the atmosphere is guaranteed to be thunderous.
"I'm expecting a loud building," Staal said. "I'm excited about it, and I know everybody in that room is excited to get out there and play in front of a rowdy crowd. Hopefully we can use that to our advantage."
"My hope is that we give our best. That's it. Then we see how it shakes out," Brind'Amour said. "Fans deserve something to be cheering about, so I hope we give them that."
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Impose Will
Set the tone from the drop of the puck by playing with speed and establishing an aggressive forecheck. The Canes have to play to their strengths and dictate their game.
2. Lead the Way
The Canes have yet to take a lead in this series. Scoring first would especially help and allow the Canes to settle in without having to chase the game.
3. Pump it Up
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are finally back in Raleigh, and the crowd is going to be amped for this one. Ride the wave of the energy and score a victory to protect home ice.
AT THE RINK
It's about time we see some playoff hockey in Raleigh, right? Make your voices heard. Bring the noise. It should be a blast.
There's a lot going on for Game 3. Here's a good rundown of it, and full details are also available.
Giveaway alert! "Take Warning" rally towels are waiting for you on your seat. You know what to do with it. (If not, ask Petey Pablo.)
WORTH A CLICK
WATCH, LISTEN & STREAM
Watch: FOX Sports Carolinas (local), CNBC (national), FOX Sports GO
Listen: 99.9 The Fan, Hurricanes app, Hurricanes.com/Listen