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Hurricanes downplay obstacles before Game 2 against Islanders

Lead playoff series despite fatigue, injuries

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl.com / Senior Director of Editorial

NEW YORK -- The Carolina Hurricanes have had little time to think about what they have accomplished so far in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But that doesn't mean they can't savor where they are after winning Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round with a 1-0 overtime victory against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on Friday.

In their first postseason appearance in a decade, the Hurricanes have already eliminated the Washington Capitals, the defending Stanley Cup champion, in a stunning seven-game series. Now, they have stolen the home-ice advantage against the favored Islanders, leading 1-0 in the best-of-7 series.

 

[RELATED: Complete Islanders vs. Hurricanes series coverage]

 

Game 2 is at Barclays Center on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS), less than 40 hours after their second straight overtime victory. Carolina sent the Capitals crashing out of the playoffs with a come-from-behind double-overtime road victory on Wednesday. 

The grind has been dizzying at times, even for the few playoff-hardened players on the Hurricanes. Not that any of them are complaining.

"It's been hockey, sleep and eating and hockey, sleep and eating," said center Jordan Staal, who scored the winner Friday at 4:04 of overtime and has a goal in each of the past three games. "Playoffs is why you want to play, and everyone here has obviously been loving every minute and wants to keep it going." 

Video: Staal nets OT winner in Game 1 against Islanders

A toll is being taken on the Hurricanes, though.

"It's the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and it's not hard to find that extra gear right now," said Carolina forward Greg McKegg said Friday. "Everyone is pretty motivated, it's an exciting time. We just have to put our best foot forward and find the energy, like we did tonight."

The energy will be harder to find if the Hurricanes continue to play at this dizzying pace. After Game 1, Brind'Amour joked that he didn't care as much about the result as he did that the overtime ended early, admitting that the effort his players have expended could catch up to them later in the series.

Captain Justin Williams tried to downplay the wear-and-tear angle after a good night's sleep.

"We're young - well, some of us are," the 37-year-old said Saturday. "We're in shape and we're hungry. That's a pretty good combination."

The early start time Sunday will be the latest challenge for the Hurricanes, throwing off a traditional game-day prep routine.

"This time of year, it is more mental fatigue than physical," Brind'Amour said Saturday. "It's as important to rest the mind as the body."

The Hurricanes haven't had a morning skate or practice since Sunday and may not have either until Tuesday, the second off day before Game 3. The Islanders, on the other hand, went nine days between games after sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round and had several practices as well as multiple off days. 

"We can't [practice], we don't have enough guys," Brind'Amour said, only half-joking. "We don't have enough guys. We're looking down to Charlotte (Carolina's American Hockey League affiliate) to see who we can get next. This time of year, I don't know what practice is going to do really. Our practices come in the video sessions and trying to touch up here and there.

"It would be nice if we had time to practice, but we didn't take care of business in the first round so we could practice." 

Forwards Andrei Svechnikov (concussion), Micheal Ferland (upper-body injury) and Jordan Martinook (lower-body injury) each missed Game 1 of this series. 

Svechnikov has not played since Game 3 of the first round, injured in a fight with Washington captain Alex Ovechkin. Svechnikov has been cleared for contact and has skated on his own for several days, including Saturday.

"He's getting close," Brind'Amour said. "He's passed everything, and this is where practice would have been great. We haven't had practice time for him to get real comfortable and we are not going to put him in if he is not comfortable."

Ferland has also missed the past five games. Martinook missed Game 5 in the first round before returning for Games 6 and 7, when he reaggravated his injury.

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