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Canes Square Up Series in Front of Energetic Home Crowd

Series tied 2-2 headed back to Washington for Game 5

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

We've got ourselves a series, folks.

After the Washington Capitals took the opening two games of the First Round in D.C., the Carolina Hurricanes claimed the next two games in front of a frenzied crowd at PNC Arena.

2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS

Game 3 was utter domination from the Hurricanes, an emphatic 5-0 win that staked the Canes' claim as viable contenders in a match-up with the defending Stanley Cup champions in front of a playoff-starved crowd in Raleigh.

That atmosphere was matched, if not even elevated, by a record PNC Arena hockey crowd of 19,202 in Game 4, a 2-1, gut-it-out win for the Canes that evened the series at two.

Video: In the Room: Brind'Amour Postgame Game 4

"The fans are great. We've known that," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said on Friday morning. "It's been a lot of fun to come here and play. I know the guys have really fed off it."

That's for sure. Warren Foegele, the goal-scoring hero of Games 3 and 4, screamed, "This crowd was awesome!" in his postgame bench interview on Monday. In the locker room after Thursday's game, Foegele said the crowd was "insane," unlike anything he had experience before in his life. Petr Mrazek, who followed up a Game 3 shutout with a 31-save performance in Game 4, said the crowd was "an extra player" for the home team.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs belong in Raleigh, and the Hurricanes belong in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Canes weren't just satisfied with snapping the NHL's longest active playoff drought of nine seasons. They want to win.

And they believe they can win.

"There's always been a belief with our group from day one that we could be in this situation. If the fans and the people are starting to believe, that's great," Brind'Amour said. "The most important thing is the guys believe."

What began as a best-of-seven series is now a best-of-three set. Washington hosts Game 5 on Saturday night, and the Hurricanes host Game 6 on Monday. That much is certain. A potential Game 7 would send the two teams back to The District for a final winner-take-all battle on Wednesday.

The Hurricanes, should they advance to the second round, will have to find a way to win at least one game on the road.

"We've found a way all year," Brind'Amour said.

Video: Brind'Amour: "There's always been a belief"

An already intense series is only going to become more intense.

"Now that the series is kind of a series, I certainly expect it to be that way," Brind'Amour said.

An already physical series is only going to become more physical.

"The first round is the toughest round … and the most physical because everybody is amped up," Brind'Amour said. "You can't keep that pace up for the whole playoff grind. Do I think [the physicality] will continue? Yes, I do. Through this round, for sure. Hopefully we can find a way to keep it up."

An already heated series is only going to become more heated.

"We've got a little rivalry going here, and that's good," Brind'Amour said.

And the Hurricanes, through it all, are staying true to themselves, true to the team that experienced a renaissance in the new year to become one of the league's best teams.

It's a young, hungry, scrappy bunch that makes up in an unmatched work ethic what it might lack in skill, that makes up in a concentrated approach what it might lack in playoff experience, that makes up in togetherness what it might lack in battle testing.

"It's just fun. They get the work part of it and how hard we have to work, but then they also get that they have to enjoy it. They're having fun with it. I'm enjoying being around this group," Brind'Amour said. "They just do it right. I want them to have fun. They should."

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