Hobbled Hurricanes look to even series with Capitals
The Carolina Hurricanes are hurting going into Game 4 of the series against the Washington Capitals at home in Raleigh, N.C.
How the Hurricanes manage to compensate for those injuries undoubtedly holds the key to Thursday night's game at PNC Arena. The Capitals hold a 2-1 series lead, though they lost 5-0 in Monday night's third game.
The issues for the Hurricanes come from injuries to rookie Andrei Svechnikov, who was knocked out by the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin in a fight, and winger Micheal Ferland.
Svechnikov is in concussion protocol and not expected to play in Game 4. Neither is Ferland, who has an upper-body injury and is "still a ways away," Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour told reporters Wednesday.
The loss of Svechnikov is a tough one, Brind'Amour said.
"Svech means a lot to us. A young kid. Just turned 19. He has a special bond with our group, I think, and me too," he said. "So when you see that it makes you sick."
Yet the Hurricanes had a good response, at least in the short term, on Monday night. Making that an extended upgrade will be the challenge.
"They picked him up and scored a couple apiece," captain Justin Williams said in reference to Warren Foegele and Dougie Hamilton. "As I said, a big win, but it's only one."
With the Tampa Bay Lightning bowing out in a first-round sweep, the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals become the highest remaining seed in the Eastern Conference.
That's a status they earned based on strong play throughout the season, and they're counting on that returning after the Game 3 shutout.
"We're a team that's together and I expect that will be part of our response," coach Todd Reirden said.
Getting back to a basic approach along with a return to the energy displayed in home games in the series will be part of Washington's plan.
"It sounds like a simple approach," Reiden said.
The Capitals had a two-month playoff experience last year, with plenty of wavering emotions. That could turn out to be a blessing in such a situation.
"You're obviously going to have your ups and downs through the playoffs, highs and lows, but overall you've just got to make sure you manage the game and make sure you do the right things at the right time," center Nicklas Backstrom said. "As this group maybe proved last year, we kept calm. If anything happens - you score a goal or you let in a goal - you've got to keep calm."
The Hurricanes hope they've rattled the Capitals and goalie Braden Holtby, who has allowed eight goals across the past five periods.
Carolina often rotated goalies Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney during the regular season, but the suggestion that they both would be used during the playoffs might be put aside for now with Mrazek coming off a shutout.
Monday's setback for the Capitals marked the end of a six-game postseason winning streak. Still, Washington's 10-4 road record across the past two postseasons reflects the most such victories for any NHL team.
Carolina will be looking to hang that fifth road loss on Washington, and Brind'Amour is confident his team can.
Because of how Carolina handled the late stretch in the regular season to secure a playoff berth, Brind'Amour senses the team knows how to react to the latest adversity.
"I can't say enough about this team. I've been around a long time and I'm really proud of this group because they just do it right every day and they give you what they can," Brind'Amour said. "It's not always pretty. We've seen it already this series, but you always know what you're going to get."
To help replenish the roster, the Hurricanes recalled Patrick Brown from Charlotte of the American Hockey League.
--Field Level Media
Updated April 18, 2019