2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs game previews are presented by Visit Raleigh.
WASHINGTON - It all comes down to this.
The Carolina Hurricanes and Washington face off in a winner-take-all First Round series finale. The team left standing after a decisive Game 7 moves on to challenge the New York Islanders in the Second Round.
"We want to finish what we started," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said on Tuesday. "I just hope we put our best foot forward, and then we'll see what happens. Either way, if you do, you're going to go away feeling we did all we could, and that's all you really want."
Lessons from Game 6
The Hurricanes faced possible elimination in Game 6 and, with a crowd of 18,913 rallying behind them, they assembled a complete team effort and a response from a disappointing Game 5.
The home team won for the sixth straight time in the series, yes, but for the first time, the team scoring first did not. Brett Connolly gave the Capitals the early lead, but Warren Foegele answered back with his team-leading fourth playoff goal. Alex Ovechkin gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead before the end of the first, but the Canes responded again early in the second period, as Teuvo Teravainen helped the Canes feast on a Capitals' turnover to tie the game at two.
"I thought Turbo's goal was a big one," Jordan Staal said. "It really got the group going again and the crowd back into it."
From there, the Capitals wouldn't lead again.
Staal scored what would be the game-winning goal in the third period, scooping in a rebound at the top of the crease.
"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."
Justin Williams stretched the Canes' lead with his first goal of the playoffs, a redirection from a Brett Pesce point shot that was headed wide of the cage, and Dougie Hamilton punctuated the win with an empty-net goal.
"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."
GAME 7 PROJECTED LINEUP
Now, the Hurricanes have to take that game on the road to a rink in which they haven't won in two regular-season matches and three playoff games.
"Game 6 last night was our Game 7 up to that point. We had to have it," Brind'Amour said on Tuesday. "Now, we've got to have another one."
For All the Marbles
There is no tomorrow for one team after Game 7. It's a bitter finality for one and a joyous continuance for the other.
"There is that tension in it," Brind'Amour said. "You're not playing these guys again. Let it all out there. The best team wins a seven-game series. That's how I think it's going to go down."
The Canes believe they are the best team. Expecting to win has been the message from the start. Now, they have to finish.
"I always feel like we're the better team no matter who we play, but you have to go out and do it," Brind'Amour said. "You know the other team is a great team. They're the best for a reason. We want to be that. We have to knock these guys off, and we have to do it on the road. That's another challenge."
Of those who have previous Game 7 experience, no resume is more qualified than that of Justin Williams. The Canes' captain is the all-time Game 7 points leader with 14 (7g, 7a), and he owns a 7-1 record in those games.
"He lives for these moments. Everyone lives for these moments, but he's just risen to the occasion," Brind'Amour said. "We're hoping he's got one more left in him."
Jordan Martinook gutted out a return to the lineup in Game 6. The Canes' gritty forward suffered a lower-body injury in Game 4 and was held out of Game 5.
But he wasn't about to not compete in an elimination game.
"When you're a little kid, these are the games you want to play in. I would have played with one arm, I think," Martinook said after the game. "Super proud of these guys. To come back after [Game 5] 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."
You can be you'll be seeing him in Game 7, as well.
"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."
Andrei Svechnikov has missed three games while in the concussion protocol. His status remains a question mark, though the plan was to have him run through additional testing and "a good practice" on Tuesday morning.
A nagging upper-body injury has kept MIcheal Ferland out of the lineup for the last three games. The Canes' bruiser skated on Monday and Tuesday, and his availability for Game 7 is up in the air.
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Manage Emotions
Game 7 is bound to be an emotional affair. Be sure to keep the emotions in check and play the game as if it were any other game, even if it surely isn't.
2. Be Special
Special teams might decide Game 7. Work hard on the kill and be sharp on the power play. Take advantage of what might be limited opportunities.
3. Empty the Tank
This is it. Leave it all out on the ice tonight because there might be no tomorrow.
WORTH A CLICK
WATCH, LISTEN & STREAM
Watch: FOX Sports Carolinas (local), NBCSN (national), FOX Sports GO
Listen: 99.9 The Fan, Hurricanes app, Hurricanes.com/Listen