The Carolina Hurricanes aren’t content to merely compete in their first postseason since 2009; they want to win.
After hanging but falling short in Games 1 and 2 in Washington, the Hurricanes “returned serve” against the Capitals during the two games in Carolina, including Thursday’s 2-1 win in Game 4. The series now shifts back to Washington tied 2-2.
This was a far tighter contest than Carolina’s 5-0 win from Game 3. The Hurricanes earned an edge in possession stats, but not a huge one, while Washington produced a 31-24 shots on goal edge. With Carolina protecting its slim lead, some of that edge might be exaggerated, so you can basically chalk this one up as plain-old close.
The Hurricanes probably didn’t love holding their breath at times, but now they know that they can defeat the defending champion Capitals in both tight (Game 4) and lopsided (Game 3) affairs.
Warren Foegele had ups and downs, among others. He scored the 1-0 goal just 17 seconds in, but also took what could have been a lethal penalty. He was given a two-minute boarding minor for a questionable hit on T.J. Oshie with just a bit more than five minutes remaining in regulation. Was a two-minute minor a just call, or should this have drawn a major? Considering playoff officiating, it’s tough to imagine a harsher punishment in such a key situation … but maybe more will come from the Department of Player Safety?
Alex Ovechkin scored his customary power-play goal for what would be Washington’s only tally of the game, but the threat of a tied game was definitely there in Game 4. The Hurricanes were able to limit Washington’s chances, although Petr Mrazek had to come up big with a point-blank save against Evgeny Kuznetsov to secure the win.
Pierre McGuire called this “The Mrazek Miracle.”
Goaltending was a question for Carolina heading into the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but Mrazek’s been heating up lately (after finishing the regular season on a pretty torrid pace, too).
Injuries are piling up for the Hurricanes, yet they’re showing that they very much belong in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and now they’ve turned this into, essentially, a “best-of-three” series with the defending champs.
The Capitals and Hurricanes will break this 2-2 series tie in Game 5 at Capital One Arena on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC (livestream)