2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs game previews are presented by Visit Raleigh.
WASHINGTON - It's a brand-new series.
The Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals return to D.C. for Game 5 with their First Round series tied at two games apiece. What began as a best-of-seven series now boils down to a best-of-three.
"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 after Game 4. "Winning Game 3 was big, this one was big and they just keep getting bigger and bigger."
Lessons from Game 4
The defending Stanley Cup champions held serve on home ice in Games 1 and 2, scoring first in both games and taking the win in both games.
As the series shifted back to Raleigh, the Hurricanes rallied with their raucous home crowd to dominate Game 3, 5-0, and gut out a 2-1 win in Game 4 to even the First Round series.
Neither the Hurricanes nor the Capitals have lost at home, and the team scoring first has won each game of the series.
The former stat, at least, has to give if the Hurricanes are to advance to the next round.
GAME 5 PROJECTED LINEUP
"We're going to have to find a way. The good news is that we didn't play poorly up there," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We've found a way all year."
After such a lopsided Game 3, the Canes knew the Capitals would push back in Game 4, which proved to be a much tighter affair. Still, Carolina limited Washington's 5-on-5 opportunities, as Alex Ovechkin tallied his team's lone goal on the power play.
"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," Brind'Amour said after the game. "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."
Warren Foegele has been the Hurricanes' X-factor in the series thus far, and in the absence of Andrei Svechnikov, Foegele's had to step up and contribute in an elevated role.
On the heels of a two-goal performance in Game 3, Foegele got the Canes on the board just 17 seconds into Game 4, a new franchise record for the fastest goal to begin a period and a game in the playoffs. In scoring his team-leading third goal of the playoffs, Foegele became the fifth rookie in franchise history to score in back-to-back postseason games and the first to do so since Erik Cole in 2002.
"He's a prototypical playoff guy. He works his tail off. He's big," Williams said. "I feel like he's kind of built for playoffs. He's been a horse for us, and I know he's going to continue it."
Next Man Up
Just as quickly as one player returned to the lineup in Game 4, the Hurricanes lost another to injury.
Calvin de Haan missed six games, including the first three of the series, with an upper-body injury he sustained in Pittsburgh on March 31. He drew back into the lineup for Game 4, pairing with Trevor van Riemsdyk, and logged four hits and one shot attempt in 12:21 of ice time.
"I thought he was fine. He didn't get a ton of minutes," Brind'Amour said on Friday. "I think it was the perfect amount for a guy who had been out for a long time. Having to step into this kind of atmosphere is not easy."
Meanwhile, the Canes' forward corps, already down Svechnikov (concussion protocol) and Micheal Ferland (upper body), took another hit with the loss of Jordan Martinook in the first period. Martinook slammed into the end boards somewhat awkwardly in an attempt to hit Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov and was slow to get to his skates. He was helped off the ice, and though he gutted out a brief shift at the end of the first, he was ruled out for the remainder of the game with a lower-body injury.
In a corresponding move, the Hurricanes recalled Aleksi Saarela from Charlotte on Friday morning.
"Next guy up has been the memo lately," Foegle said after Game 4. "All year we've been grinding and working hard, and that's translating right now."
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Keep Battling
The Canes evened up the series at home. Now they have to take that game on the road and keep battling to win their third straight.
2. Shoot First
Put pucks on net. Don't shy away from a shot. The team scoring first has won each game of this series, and it's much easier to play with a lead on the road.
3. Stay in Control
Game 5 is likely to be just as emotional and physical as the rest of the games in the series thus far. Remain in control of the game. Stick to the game plan and execute.
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