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The Difference in Overtime
Overtime. For the fourth straight game. Fourth! After tying the game and dominating in the third period, the momentum had swung in the Canes' favor, and all it took was 66 seconds into extra time for them to end the series.
Sebastian Aho won an offensive zone draw, and from along the left side boards, Jaccob Slavin let go of a wrist shot that Aho subtly redirected with the shaft of stick, changing the direction of the puck just enough that it eluded Juuse Saros.
Video: CAR@NSH, Gm6: Aho tips-in Slavin's shot for OT winner
The Canes spilled over the boards in elation, a group racing to join the goal-scoring huddle and others joining Alex Nedeljkovic, who made 24 saves, as he boogied down the ice.
"It was pretty awesome just to not have to play too much longer. We were all pretty happy about that," Dougie Hamilton. "We said stick to our game. We didn't say too much. It was a great play. Good shot, good tip. Very happy."
Video: CAR@NSH, Gm6: Hurricanes, Predators shake hands
"They take a lot of pride in how they play and represent each other and our organization," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "I think they're also hungry. They want to win. They know it takes a lot to win."
The Difference in the Third Period
After scoring a power-play goal in the back half of the second period to draw within a goal, the Canes knew the third had to be theirs.
"It just wasn't up to snuff," Brind'Amour said. "They know. They take a lot of pride in how they play. It was great to get that power-play goal just to get us within one. That was really important. They knew we had to win one period."
So, the Canes hit the ice, dispatched the last 38 seconds of a Brady Skjei cross-checking penalty and then took over the game.
In the last 20 minutes, the Canes out-shot the Predators 16-5 and out-attempted them 27-9. For much of the period, Saros was the difference, as he seemingly had the answer for every scoring chance.
Every one, that is, until Hamilton slipped a puck by him - finally - to tie the game at three.
Aho won the offensive-zone faceoff, and Slavin walked the puck down the left wall. Hamilton also jumped into the play, undetected by the clump of Predators in the faceoff circle. Slavin slid a pass over to Hamilton, and he tapped the puck past Saros.
Video: CAR@NSH, Gm6: Hamilton beats Saros at the backpost
It was a set faceoff play that the Canes decided they'd run just prior to pulling it off.
"I saw their guys were tired. They had been out there for a while. I told [Slavin], 'Let's run it,' and it worked out perfectly," Hamilton said. "It couldn't have gone any better."
The Difference in the Second Period
Jordan Martinook fired up his team on the bench. He pointed up at the scoreboard. The Canes needed to get back with the game, roll around with the puck and put shots on net, he stressed. They hadn't done enough of that. Martinook then drew an interference penalty against Matt Benning, and the Canes went to work on their second power play of the game.
The first unit held possession in the zone for more than 90 seconds. The Preds thought they had the puck cleared finally, but Hamilton held the blue line. He settled the puck, took a look and fired a shot that Aho redirected past Saros to bring the Canes within a goal, 3-2.
Video: CAR@NSH, Gm6: Aho tips-in Hamilton's point shot
"We had to wake up. [Martinook] was doing his thing. That was big for us. I think he drew a penalty after that, and we scored on the power play," Hamilton said. "That's big for him to step up and the rest of us to follow. That could have been the turning point for us."
"We were not playing well, let's be honest, for a couple periods. Martinook was having a good game all the way through. Slavs. Seabass coming through at the end," Brind'Amour said. "Your best players have to be your best players. We struggled for a while, but they took over. That's what has to happen."
Plus: Brock McGinn
Four days ago in this building, McGinn tallied twice, which included the game-tying goal late in the second and the go-ahead goal just 13 seconds into the third.
McGinn picked up where he left off and answered Nick Cousins' early opening tally in the first period. McGinn won a battle below the goal line and circled behind the net while Sebastian Aho tied up a defender in the slot. This gave McGinn time and space, and he picked the far corner on Juuse Saros' blocker side.
Video: CAR@NSH, Gm6: McGinn roofs a wrist shot past Saros
Minus: Nashville strikes early
In five of the six games in the series, Nashville scored first. The Canes won three of those games, which speaks volumes to the teams resilience, though it's not a trend in which they want to get comfortable.
"That's not something we want to keep up, but again to flip it, we've shown that we'll fight back. That's the thing," Brind'Amour said. "We're not trying to give up the first goal, obviously, but the fact that when we do, it's not over. That's a real confidence boost for this team."
Cousins got the Predators on the board just 1:44 into the game, and McGinn's answer not even three minutes later was critical. In the second period, Mikael Granlund chipped in a rebound just 1:13 into the period. Those early-period strikes are often momentum-swingers.
"They were really good in the first two. They came hard and forechecked really well," Aho said. "They created a lot of stress in our zone. They played a really good game, but we built a game. I'm happy with the effort towards the end of the game."
Again, to the Canes credit, they fought through the deficits on the road and dug themselves out of a two-goal hole to ultimately come out on top.
That's resilience defined.
"We did a good job of fighting back and not quitting on the game," McGinn said. "Battling back from down two. This team is showing some maturity. We've just got to carry on going forward."
31: With his two goals tonight, Aho now owns 31 points (13g, 18a) in 29 career playoff games.
3: This is just the third series in Stanley Cup Playoffs history to feature four or more consecutive overtime games.
8-0: The franchise has never lost a playoff series in which it has led 3-2.
Quote of the Night
"We've got a special group here. … We're proving it over and over and over. That's special." - Rod Brind'Amour
The Canes square off against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"They are the defending champs. There's a reason for that. They're a really good team," Aho said. "We have to play our best to beat them."
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