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First Round

Hurricanes' belief growing after Game 4 victory

Win second straight against Capitals to even Eastern series

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

RALEIGH, N.C. -- If the Carolina Hurricanes didn't believe before that they could knock off the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference First Round, they do now.

The Hurricanes are brimming with confidence following a 2-1 win in Game 4 at PNC Arena on Thursday that evened the best-of-7 series with the defending Stanley Cup champions.

"You're here to win, so I think all of us believe we can win," Hurricanes rookie forward Warren Foegele said. "We have a right to be in the playoffs, you know? So for us, we have the mindset to win."

 

[RELATED: Complete Capitals vs. Hurricanes series coverage]

 

However, Carolina realizes it will need to win at least one game in Washington, which has home-ice advantage, in order to win the series. The home team has won each of the four games and Game 5 is at Capital One Arena on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN360, SN1, TVAS).

But the Hurricanes return to Washington with a stronger belief than they had when they opened the series there.

Carolina had lost six straight games to the Capitals, including going 0-3-1 in the regular season, following its 4-3 overtime loss in Game 2 at Washington on Saturday. After winning 5-0 in Game 3 on Monday and holding off a much stronger effort from the Capitals on Thursday, the Hurricanes no longer wonder what they need to do to defeat them.

They know.

"You start to maybe doubt it a little bit when you're down 2-0, and you start to have desperate moments," Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton said. "We had two good games, obviously, and home ice is huge. The games were a lot different here. … We'll see what happens when we go [to Washington] Saturday."

Video: WSH@CAR, Gm4: Foegele's tap-in starts scoring early

One of the main storylines before the series began was Carolina's inexperience. The Hurricanes hadn't qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2009 and had 10 players make their NHL postseason debut in Game 1.

Forward Saku Maenalanen was their 11th player to make his playoff debut in Game 2 and forward Patrick Brown, who did not play in a game in the regular season, increased the total to 12 in Game 4. But the Hurricanes again went toe-to-toe with the reigning champions and came out on the winning end for the second straight game.

They did it despite missing forwards Andrei Svechnikov (concussion) and Micheal Ferland (upper body), who were each injured in Game 3, and losing another forward when Jordan Martinook left with a lower-body injury after the first period Thursday.

"I can't say enough about our group," Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "They just battled. Next guy up, whoever is ready, we are giving it everything we can."

It helped that Carolina grabbed a 1-0 lead when Foegele scored 17 seconds into the game. That further revved up the crowd of 19,202, which was the largest ever to see a hockey game at PNC Arena.

But the Hurricanes' mettle was tested in the second period after Alex Ovechkin tied it 1-1 on a one-timer from the top of the left circle on the power play at 10:35. Although the Capitals controlled play for much of the remainder of the period, outshooting the Hurricanes 14-9, Carolina did not blink and then took advantage of a breakdown to retake the lead on Teuvo Teravainen's goal with 28 seconds remaining in the period.

Video: WSH@CAR, Gm4: Teravainen picks the corner on Holtby

Sebastian Aho drew three Capitals players to him as he skated through the neutral zone before pushing the puck to Nino Niederreiter at the right point. Niederreiter then quickly fed Teravainen, who cruised down the open slot and beat goalie Braden Holtby over his glove.

"They're Cup champs for a reason," Hurricanes captain Justin Williams said. "They going to spend a lot of time in our zone, but a huge goal by [Teravainen] and if it's not him, next game someone else is going to step up."

Williams, 37, has been through these battles many times. He won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006, and again with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014. He also knows the Capitals well from playing for them for two seasons from 2015-17 and expects them to push back hard in Game 5.

But the Capitals have some injury troubles of their own. They were already without defensemen Michal Kempny for the playoffs because of a torn left hamstring and lost forward T.J. Oshie on Thursday when he sustained an upper-body injury on a boarding penalty by Foegele with 5:08 remaining.

"He will not be with our team for a while. He won't be playing anytime soon," Washington coach Todd Reirden said.

The loss of Oshie is a significant one for the Capitals, who managed one goal in the two games at Carolina and none at even strength. On the other hand, the Hurricanes have already learned they have what it takes to overcome their injuries.

So why shouldn't they believe they can win this series?

"We've always believed that, right?" Williams said. "We had lost six straight games to them after Game 2, close ones albeit, but lost them. So winning that one in Game 3 was big, this one is big, and they just keep getting bigger."

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