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5 Keys: Hurricanes at Capitals, Game 5

Washington will be tested without injured forward Oshie; Carolina aims to continue finishing checks

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer


8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN360, SN1, TVAS

Best-of-7 series tied 2-2

The Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals will each try to take the lead in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round when they play Game 5 at Capital One Arena on Saturday.

The home team has won each of the four games in the series, with Carolina winning the past two.

When a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series is tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 is 205-55 (.788). The winner Saturday will have a chance to advance to the second round in Game 6 at Carolina on Monday.

Here are 5 keys for Game 5:


[RELATED: Complete Capitals vs. Hurricanes series coverage]


1. Score first

This continues to be the first key because the team that scored first won each of the first four games. In Carolina's 2-1 win in Game 4 on Thursday, Warren Foegele set the early tone and a Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers record for the fastest goal at the start of a playoff game by scoring 17 seconds into the first period. Although the Capitals tied it on Alex Ovechkin's power-play goal in the second period, they were again chasing for most of the game, and Teuvo Teravainen's goal with 28 seconds remaining in the second turned out to be the game-winner. 

Scoring first would help the Capitals retake some of the momentum they lost in losing the past two games. Scoring first for the third straight game would help the Hurricanes quiet the fans. 

Carolina led for 102:03 of a possible 120 minutes in winning Games 3 and 4 after Washington led for 89:19 of 121:48 in winning Games 1 and 2. 

Video: Foegele sets scene, scoring 17 seconds in for Canes


2. Next man up

Washington will be tested without forward T.J. Oshie, who sustained an upper-body injury on a boarding hit from Foegele with 5:08 left in Game 4. Carl Hagelin will move into Oshie's spot at right wing on the second line.

"This is part of playoff hockey," Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. "There's a void there, for sure. I'm not going to downplay that. And to me, it's up to who steps up and takes advantage of that opportunity."

The Capitals recalled forward Devante Smith-Pelly from Hershey of the American Hockey League and will play him on the fourth line with Chandler Stephenson and Nic Dowd hoping he can boost their secondary scoring. Smith-Pelly scored seven goals in the playoffs last season, including three in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Hurricanes also have injury problems. With forwards Andrei Svechnikov (concussion), Micheal Ferland (upper body) and Jordan Martinook (lower body) out, they recalled Aleksi Saarela from Charlotte of the AHL. Saarela will be the 13th player to make his NHL postseason debut for Carolina in the series.


3. Physicality 

Washington wants to step up their physical play after being outhit 86-67 in the two games at Carolina. The Capitals have yet to inflict the punishment on the Hurricanes defensemen they did in wearing down opponents' defensemen physically on their way to winning the Cup last season.

The Hurricanes have outhit the Capitals 145-136 in the series.

"Finishing checks and reloading and doing the little things, that's all part of our game," Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We have to do that. If we're not doing that, it doesn't really set up too well against these guys."


4. Net-front presence

Carolina has been the better team at creating traffic in front of the opposing goalie. Foegele has been a nuisance in front of Washington goalie Braden Holtby, scoring one goal on a deflection and creating a screen that aided a Dougie Hamilton power-play goal in Game 3.

The Capitals haven't gotten to the front of the net enough against Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek, who made 48 saves on the 49 shots he faced in Games 3 and 4. 


5. Get Kuznetsov going

Evgeny Kuznetsov had a strong start to the series with three assists in the first two games, but he disappeared for much of Games 3 and 4 when Washington did not score an even-strength goal. With the Washington having last change on home ice, expect the Capitals forward to be matched against Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho, as he was in the first two games.

Kuznetsov usually responds to a challenge, and the Capitals need him to do so now. He was dominant with an NHL-leading 32 points (12 goals, 20 assists) in the playoffs last season, but has shown only flashes of that form this season.

Video: WSH@CAR, Gm4: Mrazek shuts down Kuznetsov in the 3rd


Hurricanes projected lineup

Nino Niederreiter -- Sebastian Aho -- Teuvo Teravainen

Warren Foegele -- Jordan Staal -- Justin Williams

Brock McGinn -- Lucas Wallmark -- Saku Maenalanen

Aleksi Saarela -- Greg McKegg -- Patrick Brown

Jaccob Slavin -- Dougie Hamilton

Brett Pesce -- Justin Faulk

Calvin de Haan -- Trevor van Riemsdyk

Petr Mrazek

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Haydn Fleury

Injured: Andrei Svechnikov (concussion), Micheal Ferland (upper body), Jordan Martinook (lower body)


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Carl Hagelin

Andre Burakovsky -- Lars Eller -- Brett Connolly

Chandler Stephenson -- Nic Dowd -- Devante Smith-Pelly

Jonas Siegenthaler -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik -- Nick Jensen

Braden Holtby

Pheonix Copley

Scratched: Christian Djoos, Travis Boyd, Dmitrij Jaskin, Ilya Samsonov

Injured: Michal Kempny (torn left hamstring), T.J. Oshie (upper body)


Status report

Svechnikov participated in the Hurricanes morning skate wearing a non-contact jersey. He said he hopes to play in Game 6. … Reirden had no update on Oshie, who is out indefinitely. … Stephenson returns in place of Boyd after being a healthy scratch in Game 4.

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