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These Are the Moments

Canes to square off with Capitals in decisive Game 7

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

WASHINGTON - Rod Brind'Amour has been there.

Not yet as a head coach - that will come on Wednesday - but as a player, Brind'Amour has experienced six Game 7s, including four of them with the Carolina Hurricanes, all of which were wins.

A couple are perhaps more memorable than the rest.

There was June 1, 2006. Brind'Amour pounced on a loose puck on a third-period power play to net what would be the game-winning goal in a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference Final.

That set up June 19, 2006, the most memorable Game 7 - nay, game - in franchise history. The images from that game are forever iconic lore, none more so than Brind'Amour lifting Lord Stanley's Cup high above his head.

"That's why you play," he said. "I played, I think, 1,600 games-plus, but you remember four or five of them."

The stage is now set for Brind'Amour the coach to lead the Hurricanes into their first Game 7 since May 14, 2009.

The Hurricanes played a Game 7 of sorts in Game 6. They had to remain a perfect 3-for-3 at home to send this First Round series back to Washington for a winner-take-all finale.

"We had to have it," Brind'Amour said the morning after the team's 5-2 win. "Now, we've got to have another one."

Video: Rod Brind'Amour: "Everyone lives for these moments"

It's rinse and repeat for the Hurricanes, in a sense, though they'll have to do so on the road, something they haven't been able to do at Capital One Arena in two regular-season games and three postseason attempts.

It's not as if the Hurricanes have been vastly outplayed in any of those games. There have been flashes of the team that knows it can beat anyone on any given night, but a shift here and a shift there won't cut it in a do-or-die tilt. The Canes need their best, just as they had in front of a spirited 18,913 in Game 6.

"There's not much more you can say about it. It's all clichés, pretty much, at this point. At the end of the day, we just want to put our best foot forward," Brind'Amour said. "Both teams know they can beat each other. It comes down to execution, the will factor and a break here or there."

The Hurricanes have history on their side. They are 4-0 in Game 7s, for what that is worth.

They also have a certain player who happens to thrive in Game 7, and because of that, he was bestowed a fitting moniker: "Mr. Game 7." He might bristle at the nickname, but the statistics are unparalleled.

Justin Williams owns seven goals, seven assists (14 points) and a 7-1 record in eight career Game 7s. His only loss came with the Washington Capitals in May 2017.

As if any added motivation was needed, he can help knock that same team, now the defending Stanley Cup champions, out of the playoffs.

"Now you've got this game, and it's another chance to have that - no matter how old you get - you can look back on it and go, 'Man, we did something special there,'" Brind'Amour said. "That's the stuff that still gives you goosebumps thinking about it. Then when you watch the emotion of the guys after scoring last night, that's why I'm doing it. I feel great for those guys. I've been there, and I know how exciting that is. It's hard work, there's no doubt about it, but it's worth it. That's why I'm here. I love it, and I want it for those guys."

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

The Hurricanes might have Andrei Svechnikov. Brind'Amour said the Canes' rookie was undergoing additional testing and would be put through "a good practice" on Tuesday.

The Hurricanes might have Micheal Ferland, who skated Monday and was giving it a go again Tuesday to see how his nagging upper-body ailment responded.

But, even in the case those two can't dress, the Canes know they have a lineup capable of winning. They've done so thrice already this series.

"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."

Challenge accepted.

"We want to finish what we started," Brind'Amour said. "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."

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