1. Five in a Row
Just 11 days ago, the Hurricanes were pushed to the brink of elimination after suffering a lopsided 6-0 loss in Washington. They responded two nights later with a 5-2 win at home and followed it up with a dramatic 4-3 victory in double overtime of Game 7.
Now, with their fifth straight postseason win, the Hurricanes have pushed the Islanders to the brink of elimination. Just a single win separates the Canes from being just one of two teams left standing in the Eastern Conference.
Let that sink in.
Video: In the Room: Brind'Amour Postgame Round 2, Game 3
"We're just working hard. That's all we're doing here. Everyone is showing up, putting their best foot forward and trying to work as hard as they can. That's all we're asking of guys. It's nothing more than that," Faulk said. "We've got a lot more to go, and this win is just another step."
"Destiny is not a matter of chance. It's a matter of choice," Williams offered. "You don't wait for it. You achieve it."
2. Captain Clutch
It was only Game 3, but that doesn't stop Mr. Game 7 from coming up clutch once again.
In the midst of a 2-2 deadlock midway through the third period, Williams' second goal of the postseason put the Hurricanes ahead for good. But, the play doesn't happen without the athleticism, and perhaps luck, of Aho.
Nino Niederreiter got the puck deep at center ice, and Robin Lehner circled behind the net to retrieve the dump in. He put the puck on his forehand and attempted to rim it around the boards, but Aho, aggressively forechecking, reached out with his stick to backhand the puck down. Aho then centered the puck to Williams, who took a chip shot that beat Lehner.
Video: NYI@CAR, Gm3: Williams pots Aho's feed for lead
"Sebastian is doing his thing, chasing pucks down and knocking them out of the air. That was probably my worst opportunity of the night," laughed Williams, who hit a post in the second period. "I had a couple good looks, and that one went in. It's funny how that works sometimes."
"He's been our leader all year, and he just continues to impress," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "It's not like he's the best player out there, but he just finds ways. It's special that we have him."
Towels waving. Decibel level pushing above 110. PNC Arena was rocking after Williams gave the Hurricanes a 3-2 lead, which fueled their stifling team defensive effort that followed, thwarting any chance the Islanders had of a comeback.
"They really didn't spend too much time in our zone after that goal, and that's the way it needs to be if we're going to protect the lead," Faulk said.
"We really took the game over. We didn't allow them any opportunities whatsoever," Williams said. "We kind of rode off the crowd momentum after that, everyone standing up and cheering. This place is electric. It's an extremely loud building. It's definitely home ice advantage."
3. Return of the Mac
McElhinney is making history.
Making a relief appearance in Game 2 on Sunday, McElhinney became the first goaltender in NHL history to make his first three postseason appearances with three different teams. He then stopped all 17 shots he faced to earn his first career playoff win.
In Game 3, McElhinney became the oldest goaltender in NHL history to make his first career playoff start.
"Nerves are part of it, even at this point in my career. It's a playoff game," he said. "Once I step on the ice, it's business as usual."
McElhinney then did things you might not expect to see from someone who is 35 years and 343 days old, including one remarkable save in the second period.
That save was a split on the goal line to stuff Nick Leddy's bid with his left skate blade. McElhinney then remained unflappable in the splits to keep out Jordan Eberle's pair of whacks at the loose puck.
Video: NYI@CAR, Gm3: McElhinney stretches to stone Leddy
In all, McElhinney denied 28 of the Islanders' 30 shots to earn a second straight playoff victory.
"I'm so happy for him. He's been a true professional everywhere he's been. … You cheer for guys like that," Brind'Amour said. "He's put in his dues. He's put in his time. Now, he's finally getting a chance to show it. Whether he's 35 or 25 or whatever, it's nice to see when a guy gets an opportunity and excels."
"He's a great story and a great teammate. Heck of a guy. Nothing but excitement for him," said birthday boy and assist machine Jaccob Slavin. "He's been a rock back there all year for us."
Video: McElhinney: "It was a huge third period for us"
It's been a long time coming for the near 36-year-old veteran. "Better late than never," Brind'Amour told him, as he tossed him the game puck.
"It was a lot of fun. Great crowd to play in front of. Great atmosphere. My ears are still ringing at this point," McElhinney said. "It's an enjoyable thing and something I'll cherish for the rest of my life."
4. Just-in Time
What better way to punctuate a penalty kill than with a goal scored by the player exiting the penalty box?
The Canes dispatched a hooking minor levied against Faulk, and it was Warren Foegele who corralled a loose puck, glanced up ice and saw Faulk exiting the box with open ice in front of him. Foegele flipped the puck through the neutral zone. Faulk caught the puck and threw it to the ice, all while remaining onside. He skated in alone, avoided a poke check from Lehner and scored on a beauty of a backhand.
Video: NYI@CAR, Gm3: Faulk scores after exiting penalty box
"Every time you're in the box, you're just hoping the boys cover your [butt] a bit," Faulk said. "It's not a good feeling."
But scoring that goal, which gave the Canes a 2-1 lead, was for sure a good feeling.
"That was an athletic move. He's a very good athlete," Brind'Amour said. "That was one of those you've just got to tip your hat. Top-notch."
5. Managing the Game
Teravainen opened the scoring with a tap-in goal along the far side of the net at the 6:41 mark of the first period. It didn't take even two minutes for Devon Toews to tie the game with a seeing-eye point shot on the power play.
Six minutes after Faulk's goal in the second period, it was Josh Bailey tying it for the Islanders again.
Video: Justin Williams: "We've still got a ways to go"
The Hurricanes knew that they just needed to be the better team in the last 20 minutes of regulation to get the W. All it was going to take was one bounce, and the home team got it. They then put the exclamation mark on the win with two empty-net goals.
"It was a great effort and a huge third period for us again," McElhinney said.
"It's just a battle of wills, sticking with your game and trying to create that one little gaffe," Brind'Amour said.
The Hurricanes can sweep this best-of-seven series with a win in Game 4 on Friday.
"Finishing a team off is always the hardest. They're not going to go away. We know that," Brind'Amour said. "These games have all been tight, one-goal games, essentially. It's going to be like that again on Friday."