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Recap: Canes Defeat Devils, Clinch Playoff Berth

Faulk scores game-deciding goal on the power play

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

The Carolina Hurricanes took care of business with a 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.

And the Washington Capitals, a potential first-round opponent, took care of business with a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

And as a result, the Hurricanes are headed back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 10 years.

Here are five takeaways from an emotional and cathartic regular-season home finale for the Canes.

One

It was April 4, 2009 when the Hurricanes last clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

And on April 4, 2019, the Canes are headed back to the postseason, bringing an end to a long, painful, frustrating drought.

The Canadiens-Capitals game went final in Washington mere seconds before the final horn sounded in Raleigh. 3.. 2.. 1.. and then bedlam, as the Canes celebrated their victory while the out-of-town score popped up on the video board.

Pure elation.

Video: NJD@CAR: Hurricanes celebrate win for playoff berth

What a night.

"It's been a fun atmosphere the whole year," Justin Faulk said. "We're all enjoying it right now, and there's a lot more to be had, hopefully."

"It's definitely fulfilling. It's always fulfilling when you put everything you have into something, and you reach the first goal you've wanted to get to," Justin Williams said. "It's been a lot time coming for this area and a lot of guys on this team. We're happy to be invited to the dance this year."

"You've got to enjoy some of it. I know from playing. I don't know if I took enough time to enjoy all the moments that are special. You work so hard day in and day out. We grinded these guys and put the hammer down after game 25. We were like, 'We're in playoff mode. We've got to figure this out.' We just pushed and pushed," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "The effort was amazing. That's hard to do. I just give all the credit in the world to the guys in that room."

Two

The game didn't start on script, at least not in the sense of how the Canes would have liked it to play out. Andy Greene got the Devils on the board just about five minutes into the game with a point shot that Petr Mrazek never saw through traffic in front.

"They play hard. They've done it all year," Faulk said. "Every game we've played against them they've made it real tough on us. Tonight was no different. They came out ready to go."

"Credit that team. That team works hard," Williams said. "They're at the bottom of the standings, but they work their tails off. We knew that coming in."

Video: NJD@CAR: Mrazek discusses Hurricanes making playoffs

Three

The resilient Canes parked that small setback, though. After all, there were another 55 minutes to be played in regulation.

"We were down and needed to back in the game. It was a full team effort," Warren Foegele said. "I'm pretty proud of this group right now."

Foegele tied the game at one just past the midway point of the opening frame on a play set up by Dougie Hamilton in his own end. With his head up and eyes surveying the landscape in front of him, Hamilton strung out a beautiful tape-to-tape stretch pass to Foegele at the opposite blue line. Foegele then mashed the speed burst, skated in alone and beat Cory Schneider five hole.

Video: NJD@CAR: Foegele goes five-hole on breakaway

"Foegele got us on the board, and we got rolling a little bit," Williams said.

"We were able to play our game, too, for the most part," Faulk said. "Nice to be on the winning side of it."

Four

The Hurricanes began the second period with 20 seconds of 5-on-3 time. Though it proved unfruitful, the team maintained puck possession as the power play became a traditional 5-on-4 advantage.

Faulk sent a laser beam of a shot straight to the top corner of the net, a power-play tally that was the difference in the game, the fourth straight game in which the Canes have netted a goal on the man advantage.

Video: NJD@CAR: Faulk blasts slap shot into twine for PPG

"I think he's had his best year here. The consistency he's come with and the buy in he had from day one," Brind'Amour said of Faulk. "His play, he's been great. The compete in his game. He's been phenomenal."

Nino Niederreiter scored a monumental insurance goal in the third period to make it a 3-1 game with 3:25 left in regulation.

Video: NJD@CAR: Niederreiter roofs puck over Schneider

Five

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are returning to Raleigh.

But for the Canes, that's just the first step, the first goal, the first check mark on a list that goes beyond early April.

"It's exciting, obviously. Everyone can see it, the emotion of the group in here right now. There's a bit of a vibe going on," Faulk said. "It's great. We're not happy yet, right? Well, obviously we're happy, but we're not done. It's not enough just to get into the playoffs. We know that. That's been our mindset the whole year."

Video: In the Room: Brind'Amour Postgame

"It's been a grind, but it's all been worth it," Foegele said. "We're not done. We've got to continue this."

"It's been a drought. It's just been a long journey this year. The goal was to get relevant. That was the first thing. I felt like we had kind of fallen off the map. Obviously, we're not done. This isn't the final thing. We want to be the best team. But, there's a step that has to be taken, and it's a huge step to make the playoffs," Brind'Amour said. "I can't say enough about the group. I just can't. The leadership from Justin and Jordan and Justin. Just all the guys buying in from day one of training camp. I come in new, and they believed in what we were trying to sell them. Here we are."

Up Next

Game 82 of the 2018-19 regular season takes the Hurricanes to Philadelphia for a Saturday night faceoff against the Flyers that will have seeding implications.

And then?

Then, y'all, the playoffs begin.

"There's nothing like playoff hockey. I don't care what you tell me about any other spot. There's nothing like playoff hockey. Playing it. Watching it. The experience," Williams said. "It's just ratcheted up a little bit - actually, a lot. When your backs are against the wall, you try to see what you're made of. It's a fun time of year, and I'm happy we're playing in it."

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