RALEIGH, N.C. -- Justin Williams laid out clear expectations for the Carolina Hurricanes on the eve of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Washington Capitals.
"At the end of the series, you either want to make them really, really earn it, or you want to be able to push them out of it," the captain said.
After twice rallying from one goal down for a 5-2 win against the defending Stanley Cup champions in Game 6 at PNC Arena on Monday, the Hurricanes have accomplished the first objective, at the least. With the best-of-7 series tied 3-3, the second goal is within reach in Game 7, which is at Washington on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, SN360, TVAS, NBCSW, FS-CR).
[RELATED: Complete Capitals vs. Hurricanes series coverage]
"We won a game that we had to," Williams said. "We expected to do that. We expect to win next game too. We're going to work our tails off to make that happen. They're champs. They're tested, they're true and it's going to be a great game."
The Hurricanes owe much of their success to Williams, the forward who spent his first season as captain delivering frank reminders about raised expectations after Carolina endured nine seasons without making the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now Williams is embracing the idea of playing a deciding game.
"You learn a lot about people when it's win or go home," Williams said. "[In Game 6], it was us, now it's them too. Anything can happen next game. We're happy to be playing it."
Video: WSH@CAR, Gm6: Williams' deft tip-in goal pads lead
Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour will lean on Williams for more than his leadership. Williams, a three-time Stanley Cup winner (Carolina, 2006; Los Angeles Kings 2012 and 2014), is known as Mr. Game 7. He is 7-1 in Game 7, with an NHL-record 14 points and record-tying seven goals (Glenn Anderson).
"We don't have a ton of those, but we do have Mr. Game 7," said Brind'Amour, who played with Williams on that 2006 championship team. "It's nice for young guys to look across the room and see a guy who's approaching the game the same way. We've had tons of emotions in the whole series, and you've got to go make plays. His game's not going to change. That's comforting for some guys."
Forward Jordan Martinook has never played Game 7 at any level, so he is eager for the challenge.
"We want to play exactly the way we did at home," said Martinook, in his fifth NHL season. "I think everybody in here, we're going to play our best game. So if our best game is enough, then great. Nobody is going to have any regrets moving forward."
Center Sebastian Aho, who led Carolina this season with 83 points (30 goals, 53 assists), will play his first NHL Game 7 in his third season.
Video: WSH@CAR, Gm6: Aho finds Teravainen for tying goal
"It's awesome," he said. "It's one of these moments why you play hockey. It's a big game. You've got to play hard and enjoy it."
Brind'Amour, in his first season as coach, dismissed the notion that the pressure of winning Game 7 is on the defending champions.
"I'd love to say it's on them, but we want to win," he said. "There's pressure on both sides. This is why they train. This is why they do what they do all year, to have chances to have these opportunities. These are the games you remember. This is a chance to make a moment."