The Carolina Hurricanes took an early lead on the Washington Capitals in Game 4 and then fended off their attack for the remainder of the contest in a 2-1 win to even this first-round series at two games apiece.
Warren Foegele and Teuvo Teravainen found the back of the net for the Hurricanes, while Petr Mrazek made 31 saves.
"That was a pretty hairy game. We got nicked up again. I can't say enough about our group. They just battle. Next guy up. Whoever is ready," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We're giving everything we can. Our D were really solid tonight. They really held the fort down, and goaltending came up big at the end. It was a good team effort."
Here are five takeaways from Game 4.
1. A New Series
Washington took the first two games on home ice. The Hurricanes responded with two wins of their own in a raucous PNC Arena.
What began as a best-of-seven series is now a best-of-three set and is guaranteed to return to Raleigh for Game 6 on Monday.
"You're here to win," Foegele said. "I think all of us believe we can win."
Video: Justin Williams: "We manned up tonight"
"We've always believed [we can beat them]. We had lost six straight games to them after Game 2, close ones, albeit," Justin Williams said. "Winning Game 3 was big, this one was big, and they just keep getting bigger and bigger."
Neither team has lost at home, and the team scoring first has won each game of the series.
"It means a lot that we're going to Washington in a 2-2 series," Mrazek said. "If we want to win the series, we have to go there and win at least one."
"The good news is that we didn't play poorly up there. Game 1, I thought we played really well. Game 2, not so much," Brind'Amour said. "I'm hoping we get the Game 1 effort. We've found a way all year."
Playing on home ice has truly been an advantage for the Hurricanes. A record crowd of 19,202 packed PNC Arena on Thursday.
"The fans were amazing," Mrazek said. "It was like an extra player for us."
"The crowd was insane," Foegele said. "I've never experienced anything like this before in my life."
"I've seen it. I've lived it. I know what it's like as a player," Brind'Amour said. "On Monday, it kind of brought me back to those times. It's exciting being in here when it's that loud, and fun. It's fun."
2. Foegele Makes It Happen Again
It took just 17 seconds for the Hurricanes to get on the board in Game 4, and it was Foegele, who scored two goals in Game 3, making it happen again.
Jaccob Slavin jumped into the rush and laid the puck off to Justin Williams at the blue line. Williams threaded the puck back to Slavin, creating a 2-on-1 in tight. Slavin used his left leg to shield the puck from Matt Niskanen and then slid a backhand pass over to Foegele for the easy tap-in finish.
Video: WSH@CAR, Gm4: Foegele's tap-in starts scoring early
"I was just trying to go to the net hard," Foegele said. "To be honest, I wasn't expecting the pass because he basically had a breakaway, but it was a phenomenal pass. I was very fortunate to put that in."
The goal was the fastest to begin a period and a game in franchise playoff history. Foegele is now tied for the team lead in playoff points (3g, 2a).
"From day one, it's been rewarding to see a guy come to camp not really sure where he'd fit in, but you have to keep him and play him," Brind'Amour said. "He's earned his ice time. He works hard and does what you ask of him."
"He's a prototypical playoff guy. He works his tail off. He's big. I feel like he's kind of built for playoffs," Williams said. "He's been a horse for us, and I know he's going to continue it."
3. Turbo Boost
The Capitals pushed back against the Hurricanes in the second period, as Alex Ovechkin tied the game from his office with a one-timer from the top of the left circle on the power play.
But, it was Teravainen shifting the momentum back towards the Canes in a big way, scoring a goal with 28 seconds left in the period.
Sebastian Aho gained the zone and dropped the puck off for Nino Niederreiter, who put a gorgeous pass on Teravainen's tape. No. 86 hit the seam with time and space to shoot and buried a quick snap shot to put the Canes back ahead for good.
Video: WSH@CAR, Gm4: Teravainen picks the corner on Holtby
"Every goal in playoffs is huge," Williams said.
4. Mrazek, Canes Gut It Out
Mrazek's 31-save performance was highlighted in the game's final minutes. With the Hurricanes holding on to their 2-1 lead, Tom Wilson hit Evgeny Kuznetsov in the middle of the ice, and Mrazek came up with a game-saving glove stop. Then, a combination of Mrazek and Justin Faulk helped keep Nicklas Backstrom's bid at the rebound out of the net.
Video: WSH@CAR, Gm4: Mrazek shuts down Kuznetsov in the 3rd
"He's a great goaltender," Williams said. "He makes key saves, and that's what you need at playoff time."
"When we have our mistakes, which we had, Petr has been really solid," Brind'Amour said. "That's been the difference in these last couple of games."
As the crowd roared, the Canes held off the Caps' final push.
A battle. A gutsy win. An even series.
"We're just working hard," Foegele said. "This group has been believing in each other, and everyone in this room is stepping up."
"It was a great effort game, just kind of sucking it up. We didn't execute very well on a lot of things … but they were battling," Brind'Amour said. "Everyone is contributing in some fashion, and that's what we've got to have."
5. One In, One Out
Calvin de Haan, who suffered an upper-body injury in Pittsburgh on March 31, returned to the lineup after missing the final three games of the regular season and the first three games of this series.
De Haan, who paired with Trevor van Riemsdyk, logged four hits and one shot attempt in 12:21 of ice time.
"I thought he was solid. He put some good minutes in," Brind'Amour said. "It's tough when you've been out for a long time and then have to come into a playoff game. That's as tough as it gets. He gave us some good minutes."
Video: Rod Brind'Amour: "We've found a way all year"
While one player re-entered the lineup, another departed in the first period, as the injuries continue to pile up with the Canes' forward corps. Jordan Martinook skated in to hit Dmitry Orlov behind the Capitals' net and slammed into the boards somewhat awkwardly. Martinook was slow to get up and had to be helped off the ice, and, though he came back for a brief shift at the end of the first period, he was ruled out for the rest of the evening with a lower-body injury.
"He's been battling an injury all year," Brind'Amour said. "He's just gutted it out."
Upper-body injuries to both Andrei Svechnikov and Micheal Ferland already forced the Canes to patch holes in their top nine; this injury only adds to it.
"Next guy up has been the memo lately," Foegele said. "All year we've been grinding and working hard, and that's translating right now."
A pivotal Game 5 is set for 8 p.m. in The District on Saturday.