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Second Round

Hurricanes ride resiliency to advance in playoffs

Williams, Staal, Brind'Amour come up big to help vanquish Capitals

by Kurt Dusterberg / NHL.com Correspondent

The Carolina Hurricanes advanced to the Eastern Conference Second Round with a 4-3 double-overtime win against the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on Wednesday.

The Hurricanes, playing for first-year coach Rod Brind'Amour, are in the playoffs for the first time since 2009, and defeated the Capitals despite losing the first two games of the series and trailing 3-2 after a 6-0 loss in Game 5. They will play the New York Islanders in the best-of-7 second round with Game 1 at Barclays Center on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

Here are 5 reasons the Hurricanes advanced:

 

1. Resiliency-plus

The Hurricanes bounced back from difficult circumstances in several key moments during the series.

After losing the first two games at Washington, Carolina was dominant in a 5-0 win in Game 3, when rookie forwards Warren Foegele and Andrei Svechnikov each scored two goals.

The Hurricanes faced elimination at home in Game 6, but Foegele and forward Teuvo Teravainen each scored a game-tying goal before the Carolina won 5-2. In Game 7, the Hurricanes rallied after being down 2-0 and 3-1.

"I think it's been a constant theme for us this year," defenseman Brett Pesce said. "We're so resilient and our work ethic speaks for itself. We just kept playing our game and it worked out."

 

2. Mr. Game 7

Forward Justin Williams, in his first season as Hurricanes captain, has been a steadying influence, and then some.

"I can't say enough good things about what he's done for the group," coach Rod Brind'Amour said on Tuesday before Game 7. "A leader just gives you everything he can, and to me, that's how he's leading." 

Williams further enhanced his reputation as Mr. Game 7 by setting up forward Brock McGinn for the series-winning goal at 11:05 of the second overtime on Wednesday. Williams has an 8-1 record in Game 7s and an NHL-best 15 points (seven goals, eight assists). 

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

"It's such an indescribable feeling when you celebrate with the guys you work your tail off with month after month after month," Williams said.

The 37-year-old's 53-point season (23 goals, 30 assists) was his best since he scored 59 points (22 goals, 37 assists) for the Cup-winning Los Angeles Kings in 2011-12. 

 

3. He's Staal that

Veteran center Jordan Staal's fingerprints were all over the series.

After the Hurricanes lost the first two games, Staal set a physical tone for Game 3 with 10 hits, and he set up goals by defenseman Dougie Hamilton and McGinn on the way to a 5-0 win.

In Game 6, Staal's net-front goal at 3:51 of the third period put Carolina ahead 3-2, and he tied Game 7 3-3 at 2:56 of the third period.

 

4. Coach class 

Brind'Amour has gotten the most out of the young Hurricanes, emphasizing the need to overcome a lack of experience with a commitment to a consistent work ethic.

"Everybody in here works for each other and everybody respects Rod so much and would go through a wall for him," McGinn said. "That's really big for us."

Brind'Amour matched lines and defensive pairings effectively in Carolina's three home games, helping the Hurricanes outscore the Capitals 12-3. He also helped Carolina overcome the loss of injured forwards Svechnikov and Micheal Ferland.

In Game 7, Brind'Amour juggled his lines until he found combinations that outshot the Capitals 18-6 in the two overtime periods. 

 

5. State of D-nial 

Carolina's blue line, led by Jaccob Slavin, Justin Faulk and Pesce, responded well after struggling to contain Washington forward Alex Ovechkin and center Nicklas Backstrom, who combined for seven goals in Games 1, 2 and 5 in Washington.

Slavin did not score a goal, but his nine assists led Carolina in scoring, and he had a plus-four rating in the series. He played 38:27 in Game 7.

Hamilton scored all three goals by Hurricanes defensemen.

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

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