Hurricanes make playoff statement in 2-1 defeat of Capitals

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) — The start was so impossibly good.

Warren Foegele smashing in a doorstep goal off a slick feed from defenseman Jaccob Slavin just 17 seconds in. The fastest game-opening goal in franchise playoff history.

A Caps penalty soon followed and for a second it seemed like the game three party might just continue for another 60 minutes.

RELATED: Hurricanes even series with 2-1 win over Capitals

But, the reality wasn’t so easy. The world champion Capitals, as you’d expect, were a different, more determined bunch Thursday.

Head Coach Todd Reirden said Tuesday he’d have some words for his team after that dismal loss in game three but would also lean on his leadership group to right the ship. It worked.

After that early Carolina dynamite, the Caps largely seized control, outshooting and outchancing the Canes. When Jordan Martinook left injured for the game after a freakish board collision, the air really seemed let out. There are, after all, only so many injuries one team can absorb before the cracks start to show.

Washington’s dominance paid off with an Alex Ovechkin power play thunderclap that tied the score in the second. It wasn’t just a demoralizing goal. It seemed inevitable, and at the time, so did the game’s result. Of course it was Ovechkin, currently the most hated man in Raleigh.

Sports are great though, aren’t they?

With just seconds remaining in the second period, Mino Niederreiter found Teuvo Teravainen on the left wing and “Turbo” whistled one past Braden Holtby to send the crowd into an unexpected frenzy. The whole demeanor of the game and the building instantly changed from resigned to raucous.

That left just 20 minutes for the battered Canes roster to hold the fort.

That’s exactly what they did too. In fact, the Canes carried the play early on in the third. Eventually, though, the Caps made their push. A late penalty on Warren Foegele seemed ominous but was killed off almost clinically.

With just over two minutes left, it fell to Petr Mrazek. He barely broke a sweat Monday and wasn’t terribly busy Thursday until he needed to be.

Not once but twice he turned back Washington with five-alarm saves. A hero when his teammates needed one. The crowd thundered to its feet to carry them home from there.

So here we are. Series tied 2-2.

Another insane asylum home game guaranteed next week. As banged up as they are, the Canes have everything to play for and they’ve made it abundantly clear they’re willing to give everything they’ve got to get it.

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