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Game 6 Recap: Canes Top Capitals to Force Game 7

Canes stave off elimination in 5-2 win

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

With their backs against the wall, the Carolina Hurricanes pulled out a gutsy 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals in Game 6 to force a winner-take-all finale in Washington.

Jordan Staal gave the Hurricanes their first lead of the game early in the third period, which they then added to and preserved to extend this series for one more game.

Here are five takeaways from Game 6.

1. Home Team Wins Again

For the sixth straight game in this First Round series, the home team was victorious.

Only this time, the home team had to come from behind to get the win, a first in this series.

Helping propel the Hurricanes along were the 18,913 in attendance at PNC Arena.

"I'm telling you, that crowd has been so much fun to play in front of. It's been a long time coming, and you could feel it," Staal said. "It was just a lot of fun. I'm excited to be where we're at and hopefully find a way to win Game 7."

Video: In the Room: Brind'Amour Postgame Game 6

"It's awesome playing here in front of our home crowd," Sebastian Aho said. "It's unbelievable."

"It's a huge deal, the crowd here," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "You can just feel it on the bench. You can feel the energy they give our players."

Brett Connolly silenced the home crowd, if only briefly, with the first goal of the game at the 5:06 mark of the first period, as he skated out from behind the goal line untouched with the puck and buried his shot.

Five minutes later, the Hurricanes answered. And who else but Warren Foegele? He scored his team-leading fourth goal of the postseason, a simple spin-and-shoot after the expiration of the Canes' first power play.

Video: WSH@CAR, Gm6: Foegele spins in the slot and scores

"Right from the start, we were doing what we were trying to do," Brind'Amour said. "Everyone was engaged. They were giving you what they could."

2. Turbo Time

Alex Ovechkin gave the Capitals a 2-1 advantage late in the first period, as he cut to the middle of the ice and scored on a blistering wrist shot.

It only took the Hurricanes 116 seconds at the outset of the second period to tie it. Aho skated in hard on the forecheck, forcing Jonas Siegenthaler to turn the puck over. Aho then found Teuvo Teravainen in the slot for the one-time finish.

Video: WSH@CAR, Gm6: Aho finds Teravainen for tying goal

"I thought Turbo's goal was a big one," Staal said. "It really got the group going again and the crowd back into it."

The Hurricanes had been looking for more contributions from their first line - "Your best players have to be your best players," they say - and they got that in a timely way with Teravainen's game-tying goal. From that point forward, the Capitals never led Game 6.

3. The Big Man Strikes

Staal makes his home at the top of the blue paint, and why not? Listed at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Staal is a firm tree trunk that's near impossible to chop down.

Locked in a gritty 2-2 battle early in the third period, it was the big man coming through to put the Canes ahead. Justin Faulk snapped a shot on goal, and the puck bounced around in the slot. Braden Holtby kicked the puck aside, but Staal swiped at the puck with his backhand and slid it underneath Holtby's left pad.

Video: WSH@CAR, Gm6: Staal fends off defense to net rebound

"It felt good," Staal said.

"He can score and make plays. That's kind of his area around the net," Brind'Amour said. "It was nice to see him get rewarded. He does everything right for us, and I don't know if he gets enough credit for how good of a player he is."

4. Mr. Game 7 Helps Force Game 7

Justin Williams had been held to just two assists in the first five games of this series, but he's got a penchant for big moments in big games.

With the Hurricanes leading 3-2 in the third period, Williams got his blade on a shot from Brett Pesce that was otherwise going to go well wide of the cage. The new trajectory of the puck fooled Holtby, as it skipped in to stretch the Canes' lead to two.

Video: WSH@CAR, Gm6: Williams' deft tip-in goal pads lead

That, essentially, put the game out of reach, and it came not too long after the Capitals had a potential game-tying goal waved off (and confirmed after video review from a coach's challenge).

It's all about momentum, and the captain's goal swung the pendulum in full favor of the Canes.

"When that place erupts, it's a pretty cool feeling," Staal said. "You can tell our group feeds off that."

5. Martinook Guts It Out

It pained Jordan Martinook to watch Game 5 from the press box in Washington.

"You feel helpless. You want to be down there," he said. "I've been with this group from day one. I want to be there when it's not going great, too. I want to be there to help pick guys up. That's what I tried to do after the game. I went in, I said, 'We'll go back, win it at home and come back in Game 7.' That's what we got."

That pain was more than the lower-body pain Martinook was experiencing, and there was no way he was being held out of a do-or-die Game 6.

"When you're a little kid, these are the games you want to play in," he said. "I would have played that with one arm, I think."

Video: Jordan Martinook: "I was playing no matter what"

Martinook was high-energy, as usual, during warm-ups. He was dancing along to the pregame playlist and banging his stick on the ice and the boards. He was ready to go, pain or not.

"I knew he was going to play. There's just no way you're keeping him out," Brind'Amour said. "He battled, and he was a factor again tonight."

Martinook logged an assist, four hits and two shots on goal in 14:25 of ice time.

"Super proud of these guys. To come back after a game like that and us just play our game and do exactly what we do says so much about this group. I'm so happy to be a part of it," Martinook said. "I can't say enough good things about everybody."

And you can guarantee you'll see him again in Game 7.

"It's definitely an emotional lift for the guys," Brind'Amour said. "He's the glue in there, and when that wasn't there, you could feel it."

Up Next

It all comes down to Game 7 in Washington on Wednesday.

"Anything can happen in Game 7. It's what you dream of playing as a kid," Staal said. "I know everyone in this group is excited. We're going to find a way."

"It's a big game. It's awesome. It's one of these moments why you play hockey," Aho said. "You've just got to go out there, enjoy it and work hard."

"There's no tomorrow," Brind'Amour said. "This is a chance to make a moment. That's why it's so special."

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