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First Round

Capitals ready for resilient Hurricanes in Game 3

Prepared for Carolina's speedy, aggressive style in first home playoff game since 2009

by Harvey Valentine / NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Washington Capitals are expecting more of the same speedy, aggressive style of play from the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round at PNC Arena on Monday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN, TVAS2, NBCSWA).

Washington leads the best-of-7 series 2-0 after a 4-3 overtime win at Capital One Arena on Saturday but has had to survive a Carolina comeback in each game.

"Absolutely no quit in that team," coach Todd Reirden said Sunday before the Capitals flew to Raleigh, North Carolina. "Hardworking, a lot of speed from behind when we have the puck. They do a really good job in terms of being aggressive and taking away time and space from us."

 

[RELATED: Complete Capitals vs. Hurricanes series coverage]

 

The Capitals want to make the Hurricanes play from behind again. They led 3-0 after the first period in Game 1, a 4-2 victory, and scored the first two goals in Game 2.

"Our starts have been really important, and there's going to be momentum swings," Reirden said. "Sometimes it's going to end up with them converting and other times not, but they're not going away."

He's also expecting Carolina to get a boost from its fans. It's the first home playoff game for the Hurricanes since Game 4 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Final.

"I expect them to be even better against us in Game 3," Reirden said. "They can create a little bit more offensively against us than they have so far, and I think that their crowd is going to give them a big boost."

One area Reirden said he would like to see improve is the power play. The Capitals were 2-for-4 in Game 1 but went 0-for-4 in Game 2.

"They've made a little bit of an adjustment in terms of how they're playing us up higher," he said. "I think we're still getting some opportunities. We've missed the net a few more times than we would have liked in some spots.

"[In] Game 1 we were really sharp and that'll be a key for us to making some adjustments in our room to stay unpredictable and be able to convert when we get into Raleigh. We got away with not winning that special-teams game [Saturday], but that doesn't happen very often."

Video: Capitals strike in overtime to grab 2-0 series lead

If the Capitals can win Games 3 and 4, they'll sweep a best-of-7 series for the first time since entering the NHL in 1974.

Alex Ovechkin, the NHL's leading goal-scorer during the regular season, had two assists in Game 2. The first came when he fed center Nicklas Backstrom, his longtime linemate, for a tip-in to open the scoring.

"The one thing maybe opponents and us players, [on] the same team, [are] not aware of him because when he lines up like that, a lot of people think he's going to shoot because he's got a terrific shot," Backstrom said.

In a role reversal, Backstrom, who led the Capitals with 52 assists during the regular season, leads Washington with three goals in the first two games; Ovechkin, known more as a scorer than a passer, has one goal and two assists.

"When you play with [Evgeny Kuznetsov] or [Backstrom], you know, you learn a lot," Ovechkin said of his passing. "Right now, [Backstrom] is a scoring machine. You know, I'm Backstrom."

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