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First Round

Williams comes through for Hurricanes in Game 7 against Capitals

Forward has assist on winning goal in 2OT, adds to record point total in deciding games

by William Douglas @WDouglasNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Justin Williams lived up to his Game 7 billing for the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday.

The forward assisted on Brock McGinn's goal 11:05 into the second overtime that gave the Hurricanes a 4-3 win against the Washington Capitals to clinch the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round.

Williams threw the puck toward the goal, and McGinn deflected it past Braden Holtby to deflate the Capital One Arena crowd and send Carolina to the second round, where it will face the New York Islanders. Game 1 is at New York on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

 

[RELATED: Complete Capitals vs. Hurricanes series coverage]

 

Williams further enhanced the reputation that earned him the nickname Mr. Game 7; it was his 15th point in a deciding game (seven goals, eight assists), extending his NHL record, and the three-time Stanley Cup winner is 8-1 in those games.

But he shrugged off the notion that the moment built on his legacy.

Video: CAR@WSH, Gm7: McGinn scores in 2OT to win series

"It doesn't add to anything," the Carolina captain said. "I've been a part of some great teams. This is not my story, this is the Hurricanes' story, and I'm proud of every single one of our guys. We're not done. We won a series."

Williams may have tried to deflect attention, but he was the talk of the locker room after the game.

"He's awesome in this room," McGinn said. "He just settles us down. Going into a double overtime [in] Game 7, a lot of us have never been in the playoffs before. So I think having him in your ear, just giving that confidence and relaxing you, it really helps this group."

Video: CAR@WSH, Gm7: Williams on team's effort in Game 7 win

Coach Rod Brind'Amour said the players look up to Williams, just as he does.

"He gave me a lot of confidence that I could do this job," said the first-year coach, a teammate of Williams on the 2005-06 Cup champion Hurricanes. "As a first-time coach, there's always doubt. You're always going to wonder if you're doing it right. But to have to have him there as a friend, No. 1, and be able to tell me when I'm screwing up, come in and say, 'This is no good.' He screws up a lot too, and I can give it to him back." 

The Hurricanes, who twice came back from two goals down Wednesday to eliminate the defending Cup champions, showed a resilience that typified their resurgent season. They improved by 16 points over last season and qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

"In training camp that was our goal, we want to be relevant again, we want to compete for a Stanley Cup," center Jordan Staal said. "To beat a team of that caliber, the defending Stanley Cup champs, it's an awesome feeling and it just shows how good we can be." 

McGinn said, "There are so many guys in this dressing room who have been through some low times. To come out of this Game 7 on top, it's really big for this organization and this group of guys in here."

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