1. Playoff Hockey Returns to Raleigh
There's been a palpable buzz in the Triangle for a few weeks now, and it was all building to a Monday night at PNC Arena, nearly 10 years removed from the last time the Stanley Cup Playoffs came to Raleigh.
Canes fans had been waiting a long time for this, and the raw emotion from the standing room only crowd of 18,783 gave the building an unmatched thunderous vibe. No doubt, the Hurricanes fed off that fervor.
"It was great. Loved it," Justin Williams said. "It was absolutely electric."
Video: Justin Williams: "It was electric tonight"
The noise in the building pushed 113 dBs at its loudest. Standing ovations. Towels waving. The playoffs are finally back in Raleigh.
"The crowd was unbelievable," Dougie Hamilton said. "It was one of the loudest buildings I've ever played in. Just so fun."
In what was a symbiotic relationship, the fans were treated to perhaps the best game the Hurricanes have played all season. Down 2-0 in this best-of-seven series coming into Tuesday, they needed that win, and the crowd helped will them.
"I thought we were engaged from the start," Warren Foegele said. "We were physical, and we all battled together."
"We were relentless. We just kept going at them," Hamilton said. "It's not easy to play against a team like us when we're playing like that."
The Hurricanes' offense in this series has been largely fueled by rookies, from Andrei Svechnikov's two-goal performance in Game 1 to Lucas Wallmark being tied for the team lead in points (1g, 2a) after the first two games.
It was Foegele's turn in Game 3. Foegele netted the Canes' first two goals of the game and had critical net-front presence on Hamilton's power-play tally that extended the lead in the second period.
"I think I play aggressive and hard. I love these moments," Foegele said. "This is when it counts. This is when it matters."
The Canes had not led in this series until they took advantage of a turnover about midway through the first period, working the puck up to the point to Justin Faulk, whose shot was tipped in past Braden Holtby by Foegele.
Video: WSH@CAR, Gm3: Foegele tips Faulk's shot past Holtby
In a dominant second period for the Canes, Teuvo Teravainen whipped the puck off the near wall over to a wide-open Sebastian Aho. The Canes' leading scorer from the regular season was patient with the puck and slipped it over to Foegele in front of the net, and he finished for his second of the game to double the Canes' lead.
Video: WSH@CAR, Gm3: Foegele buries feed from Aho
"He's a great player. He works so hard," Hamilton said of Foegele. "He's tenacious and never gives up."
"He's been a real effective player for us," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "He's always had that ability. He can really skate, and he plays pretty intense. It was good to see."
3. Hamilton Nets a Pair on the Power Play
What's the key to a successful power play?
It's layered, for sure, but a simple answer is shooting the puck. So, that's what Hamilton did.
His first of the game, a wrister from in between the tops of the two circles through a Foegele screen in front, extended the Canes' lead to three in the second period.
Video: WSH@CAR, Gm3: Hamilton pads lead with power-play goal
Hamilton then made it a 4-0 game in the third with another power-play goal, this one a booming shot from the right point that beat Holtby clean.
Video: WSH@CAR, Gm3: Hamilton hammers shot for second PPG
"These guys shoot it," Brind'Amour said. "Sometimes they go in, but they never go in if you don't shoot."
Hamilton joins Dave Babych and Sean Hill as the only defensemen in franchise history to score two goals in a playoff game.
"We were on them and kept pushing, kept pushing and kept pushing," Williams said. "Our D were up and in their face. We played probably our best game of the year."
4. Mrazek Pitches a Shutout
Petr Mrazek has five career playoff wins to his name, and four of them have been shutouts.
Mrazek didn't see much work in this one, facing just 18 shots. That ledger included a single shot against in the second period, a little backhander from Alex Ovechkin square into Mrazek's tummy with 4:45 left in the middle frame.
Video: WSH@CAR, Gm3: Mrazek sprawls to rob Backstrom
Mrazek's light workload is a testament to the team in front of him. The Canes possessed the puck and dominated play nearly all night. In the second period, it seemed all the Capitals could do was ice the puck while the Canes continually rolled around in their zone and generated chance after chance.
"I don't know how much work he had, but you still have to make saves at the right time to keep momentum going, and that's what he did," Brind'Amour said.
5. Svechnikov, Ferland Injured
It's not all good news for the Canes after this win. Of grave concern is the health of Andrei Svechnikov, who suffered an upper-body injury in a first-period fight with countryman Alex Ovechkin.
The two traded a couple jabs before dropping the gloves, a fight card that did not favor the Canes' rookie. Ovechkin, who has an inch plus 40 pounds on Svechnikov, landed a couple of crushing blows, none more so than a right that caught Svechnikov square on the chin.
It wasn't a pretty sight as Ovechkin fell on Svechnikov, his head colliding violently with the ice. The 19-year-old, who scored two goals for the Canes in Game 1, had to be helped off the ice.
Brind'Amour, who checked on him after the first period, said Svechnikov "wasn't looking too good" and was gone from the building by the time the game had ended. The mood in the locker room, even after a playoff victory in front of a rowdy home crowd, was understandably somber.
Video: Brind'Amour: Our guys are never going to quit"
"It's one of the hardest things I've had to go through on the ice. I don't really know what to say. I just kept thinking about him the whole game. I just hated seeing that. I hated the whole part of it. Just something you never want to see," said Hamilton, who along with Foegele, are two of Svechnikov's locker room buddies. "I feel so bad for him, and hopefully he gets better soon. The game doesn't really matter when something like that happens. You can't get that out of your head. I hope he's going to be OK."
Brind'Amour had to gather his words when asked about it at the beginning of his postgame press conference.
"Svech means a lot to us. Young kid, just turned 19. He has a special bond, I think, with our group and me too," he said. "When you see that, it makes you sick. I'm still sick to my stomach about it."
It's an extremely unfortunate development for the Canes, who have lost the forward who arguably possesses the most raw talent on the team.
"That's our brother, and we stand up for each other," Foegele said. "We knew we needed to get this win, not just for us, but for him."
Micheal Ferland also departed the game in the first period and did not return with a reaggravated upper-body injury.
Game 4 is set for Thursday night at PNC Arena, a chance for the Canes to even up this series before it heads back to Washington.
"It was a big win, but it's just one," Williams said.
"We just played hard," Brind'Amour said. "We understand it's one game, but it's nice to play the way we played."