WASHINGTON - And then there was one.
One game will decide the fates of the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals, whose First Round series requires a winner-take-all Game 7.
GAME 7 PREVIEW
The Hurricanes opted to not take a morning skate, instead holding meetings and doing some light stretching at the team hotel.
Head coach Rod Brind'Amour and captain Justin Williams helped set the table for Wednesday night's do-or-die finale.
On the message to the team: "It's not going to be any different than our message was last game. We want to lay it on the line. We want to make sure, however it goes, you walk out of that rink knowing you did all you could. That's all you can ask of these guys. If we do that, I feel pretty confident in the way we play that we'll have a good result. We certainly don't want to leave having any regrets."
On Game 7: "You've got to have the courage to make plays. You've got to go play your game. It's really no different than any other game. It just gets magnified because everyone knows that one mistake could be the difference from your season moving on or not, and that one play could be the same thing. … You've got to have the courage to make your plays, go out there and play the way you do."
On not taking a morning skate: "Our routine, we've been all over the map all year. That's one of the things we've tried to do, not be you have to do it this way or that way. We skated here last game, and that sure didn't work. I think the most important thing is the rest factor. You're not getting much done in a morning skate at this point in the year."
Video: Brind'Amour: "We want to lay it all on the line"
On Sebastian Aho: "It's playoffs. There's not a lot of room. It's tough. He's had some good looks. I'm actually excited because he's going to break out. Obviously we'd love to see it tonight. We're going to need it. We're going to need offense from all of our top guys."
On "Mr. Game 7": "Certain players cherish these moments a little more. He's been around. Obviously he knows how to play. These moments don't really affect him. He doesn't change how he plays. I expect him to be Justin. I expect him to play the way he's always played."
On how the road team can be victorious for the first time in the series: "We haven't played, I don't think, as well in the team game. Our special team game is no good up here, for whatever reason. We know that's their ace in the hole. We've got to not take penalties, number one, and then when we do take them, we have to kill them. When we get a power play, we have to make it count. That's been not great either. If we can do one of those two things, I think that sets up better for us."
On the magnitude of Game 7: "Everybody knows the magnitude of this moment. It's not lost on anybody. No one is going to remember what happened Game 1 through Game 6. They're going to remember tonight. We know that."
On the team's mindset: "You just can't think too much about it. It is what it is. It's a win-or-go-home for both teams, but you can't put too much into it. Obviously you're going to play like this is your last game because it could be and just give it everything you've got."
On performing in Game 7: "You always err on the side of enthusiasm other than erring on the side of caution. You don't want to be tentative. You don't want to be 'What if this happens?' You just want to go out and get it. Trust your instincts. They're what got you here. Go get it."
Video: Williams: "Everybody wants to be the guy"
On being "Mr. Game 7": "That's a label that I didn't instill on myself. You guys gave it to me. … The pressure to perform and be an impact player is the same for every single guy on our team. Everybody wants to be the guy. Everybody wants to have an impact positively on the game."
On not taking a morning skate: "At this point in the year, what are you going to do at practice? You're just going to get your sweat going and maybe go over a few things. This game tonight has much more to do with will, compete and going together."
On how he'll spend his day: "I'm going to just turn my phone off, do a crossword, watch some video and wait for 7:30."
On superstitions and shaking up his routine: "Yeah. Yeah. Switch up everything. We're creatures of habit. That didn't work, so I've got to try something else." Anything in particular? "I think I might go regular mashed potatoes instead of sweet potatoes today. That might be the difference."
On Hamilton, the pig: "I'm happy he's cheering for us."