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Hurricanes come up big in first home playoff game in 10 years

Defeat Capitals in Game 3 to get back into Eastern series

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Warren Foegele tried to have a conversation with one of his teammates on the bench, but the effort proved to be futile in the Carolina Hurricanes' 5-0 victory against the Washington Capitals in Game 3 of Eastern Conference First Round on Monday.

The sellout crowd at PNC Arena was so loud, the rookie forward couldn't hear.

"Crazy," said Foegele, who was one of the heroes for the Hurricanes with two goals and an assist. "I've never been in a place like that before where I literally couldn't hear anything, I was trying to talk to someone once and my ears were numb. It was a pretty surreal moment."

 

[RELATED: Complete Capitals vs. Hurricanes series coverage]

 

It had been 10 years since the Hurricanes last played a home game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and, along with their fans, they were determined to make the most of it. They did with a dominating performance against the defending Stanley Cup champions for their first win in the best-of-7 series.

Now, the Hurricanes have some momentum with Game 4 at PNC Arena on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, SN360, FS-CR, NBCSWA), but they know they have lot more work left to do.

"A big win," Hurricanes captain Justin Williams said. "But it's only one."

It was a complete team effort by Carolina, which outshot Washington 45-18, including 18-1 in the second period and 30-8 over the final two periods. With constant pressure on the forecheck, the Hurricanes forced the Capitals into numerous turnovers in their end. That led to scoring chances for the Hurricanes and little time for the Capitals to go on the attack offensively.

Video: WSH@CAR, Gm3: Foegele buries feed from Aho

During a stretch of 23:04 that bridged the first and second periods, the Capitals did not have a shot on Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek, who earned his fourth career playoff shutout.

"We were on them," Williams said. "We were on them and we kept pushing and kept pushing and our 'D' were up. We were in their face and we played probably our best game of the year."

The Hurricanes needed that kind of effort after losing the first two of the series at Washington and never leading in either game. They knew going down 3-0 against the Capitals in this series would've been too big of a hole to overcome.

"I was hoping we could just play our game," Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "I didn't think we played very well in the first two games. I think there were spurts there, but it felt like right from the start tonight it was good. Where did it come from? I don't know. The guys, they understand the situation. We're in a must-win situation and I think we played like that."

Video: WSH@CAR, Gm3: Hamilton pads lead with power-play goal

Hungry to see playoff action at PNC Arena for the first time since Game 4 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Final on May 26, 2009 (when they lost 4-1 and were swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins), the Hurricanes fans were loud from the drop of the puck. The Hurricanes gave them more to cheer about 9:43 into the game when defenseman Justin Faulk's left point shot deflected in off Foegele in front to give them their first lead of the series.

At that point, Carolina was already missing forward Micheal Ferland with an upper-body injury that forced him out of the game and then lost forward Andrei Svechnikov when he sustained an upper-body injury in a fight with Washington captain Alex Ovechkin at 10:59.

Down to 10 healthy forwards, the Hurricanes kept coming at the Capitals, who appeared overwhelmed at times by their forecheck and the frantic pace of the game.

"They were a desperate team," Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. "They were at a different level than we were at tonight."

With Ferland and Svechnikov out, Foegele moved up to the top line with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen and completed a pretty passing play with his new linemates to make it 2-0 at 6:09 of the second period.

Foegele then provided the screen in front on the first of Dougie Hamilton's two power-play goals, which made it 3-0 at 11:40 of the second. Hamilton added another power-play goal at 9:47 of the third to make it 4-0 and Brock McGinn delighted the crowd with the final goal on a left circle shot off the rush with 4:25 left.

"We were relentless," Hamilton said. "We just kept going at them. The crowd was unbelievable. It was one of the loudest buildings I've ever played in and just so fun."

Video: WSH@CAR, Gm3: McGinn beats Holtby top shelf

Few expected the Hurricanes to qualify for the playoffs this season, but they went 46-29-7 to earn the first wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference and now they're battling the defending Cup champions nose-to-nose. Under Brind'Amour, their former captain who is in his first season as their coach, they've revived the memories of their playoff glory days when they reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2002, won the Cup in 2006 and reached the conference final again in 2009.

And they're not done, yet.

"I can't say enough about this team," Brind'Amour said. "I've been around a long time and I'm really proud of this group because they just do it right. They give you what they can. And it's not always pretty. We've seen it here already in this series. But at least you know what you're going to get."

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