Gold: Canes fall in overtime, but series far from settled

April 14, 2019

Is it possible to be encouraged while trailing a series two games to none? Is it okay to feel good about the Hurricanes position in spite of the sting of losing — and quickly — in overtime on a Brooks Orpik goal? BROOKS ORPIK for cryin’ out loud! Is it possible that there were enough good signs to think that this is still going to be a long series?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Carolina showed all of their mettle and character and resilience, battling back from an early, self-inflicted 2-0 deficit, extending the defending Stanley Cup champs into overtime before Orpik ended the day at 1:48 of extra innings.

In game one, Carolina was a catastrophe in the defensive zone over the last half of the first period and Washington made them pay a heavy price. It was 3-0 after one and, while Carolina battled back to make a game of it, it was took steep a hill to climb. Saturday afternoon at Capital One Arena, the tomfoolery started right away for the Canes.

Justin Faulk lost touch with Nicklas Backstrom at the top of the crease for an easy, tap-in goal for a 1-0 lead less than four minutes in. Six minutes later, T.J. Oshie took a feed from Andrei Kuznetsov and eluded Justin Williams before snapping a backhand shot over Mrazek for a 2-0 lead.

Unlike Thursday, Carolina responded. The Hurricanes ramped up their play, cleaned up most of the mistakes and grinded back into the game.

Lucas Wallmark redirected a Jacob Slavin pass through traffic for a 2-1 game late in the 1st. Sebastian Aho got back on the score sheet with a hard-working goal from the right side of the Washington net in the waning stages of the second period to send the game into the 3rd all even. Then, after Tom Wilson made it 3-2 with just over 11 minutes left in regulation, Jordan Staal deflected Dougie Hamilton’s point drive past Braden Holtby for the equalizer.

The story of this Hurricanes season was resilience. Beyond the goals, Carolina had to deal with the adversity of losing forward Michael Ferland to a match penalty for an early second period hit on Nic Dowd. We could talk for a long time about whether or not the call was justified — or whether it should have been a penalty at all — but, the bottom line is that the Canes needed to kill off a 5-minute major penalty against a Washington team with a lethal power play.

They did.

The Canes may have lost in overtime. They might trail 2-0 in the series to the defending Stanley Cup champions. And it might seem daunting to know that in order to escape this series, the Hurricanes are going to have to win four of the next five games from a team they’ve yet to beat all year.

But, Carolina put their character and resilience on display Saturday afternoon. And, for a team that hasn’t had much in those departments the last eight or nine years, having that in their back pocket is good feeling. You don’t come from where the Canes were to where they are without the ability to persevere.

No one said, beating the Capitals was going to be easy. But, if there’s a group capable of coming back, it’s this resilient group of Jerks that’s very comfortable grinding it out to the end.

* Sebastian Aho scored a goal. That is all. There’s more coming.

* The Hurricanes were 1 for 5 on the power play, thanks to Jordan Staal’s high slot deflection. Washington was 0 for 4 with the man advantage including more than 4 minutes of 5-on-4 time while Michael Ferland was given a match penalty and a 5-minute major.

* I would expect Ferland will be cleared to play Game 3 in Raleigh and the match penalty will be rescinded upon league review.

* Dougie Hamilton, however, may earn a suspension for his elbowing hit on Evgeny Kuztensov. He only received a minor penalty for the hit, but it was far worse than Ferland’s hit on Nic Dowd.

* Alexander Ovechkin was penalized for a high hit on Brock McGinn and it will be interesting to see how the league reacts to the fact that Ovechkin appeared to leave his skates and hit McGinn in the head.

* Warren Foegele and Saku Maenalanen figured prominently on the Canes first goal. It was a relentless forecheck by Foegele that created the opportunity. Maenalanen, who drew back into the line up after sitting out game 1, created traffic in front of the net that made it possible for Lucas Wallmark to deflect the puck through a sprawling Holtby. And, when I say “sprawling Holtby”, I mean a faking, diving Holtby. He clearly initiated contact with Maenalanen, outside the crease, then embellished the contact with a triple toe loop that Dorothy Hamill would be proud of. The goal was allowed, obviously.

* Game 3 will be at PNA Arena on Monday night at 7:00.