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Five points for the Hurricanes going into Game 3

Canes gear up for Game 3 against Caps

Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour says his team needs to get back to playing its game to win Game 3 of their playoff series against the Washington Capitals. The Caps lead 2-0 in the series, which shifts to Raleigh and PNC Arena on Monday.
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Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour says his team needs to get back to playing its game to win Game 3 of their playoff series against the Washington Capitals. The Caps lead 2-0 in the series, which shifts to Raleigh and PNC Arena on Monday.

1. THE MATCH GAME You’d normally look at coming home for Game 3 as a chance to get the matchups you want, and that as a key to getting the Hurricanes’ struggling stars going, but the Capitals loaded up with John Carlson and their top defensemen so heavy at home that there doesn’t figure to be much of a change on the road. Rod Brind’Amour isn’t a huge matchup coach anyway, but he would be advised to look for any little advantage he can get with last change.

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Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, chases the puck past Carolina Hurricanes right wing Andrei Svechnikov (37), of Russia, during the third period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Washington. The Capitals won 4-3 in overtime. Nick Wass AP

2. MRAZEK MAN By the underlying analytics – shot quality faced and goals allowed – Petr Mrazek is the worst goalie in the playoffs. Anecdotally, he’s been more than sharp and timely enough since Nicklas Backstrom’s long-distance goal to open the series, the Brooks Orpik winner in Game 2 coming at the end of a long series of Carolina breakdowns. Brind’Amour seemed to leave the door open at least a hair to giving Curtis McElhinney a shot, since McElhinney has often exerted a calming presence on a defense that has been a little scrambly, but that may be more likely if the Hurricanes are facing a 3-0 deficit in Game 4.

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Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) chases the puck against Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek (34) during the third period of Game 2 on Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Washington. The Capitals won 4-3 in overtime. Nick Wass AP

3. START ON TIME The old Bill Peters line about “starting on time” applies here; going down two or three goals to the Capitals in the first period is a recipe for disaster. The issue was special teams in Game 1, five-on-five (and Justin Faulk) in Game 2. Another slow start could effectively end the series.

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Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin (74) lunges with the puck against Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov (9), of Russia, during the third period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series, Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Washington. Nick Wass AP

4. FLIP THE POWER The so-called second power-play unit with Dougie Hamilton and Jaccob Slavin has had better chances than Faulk’s ponderous first unit. It’s long past time for the second group to become the first group, at least until those forwards show a little more initiative.

Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho scored his first goal in 16 games in Game 2 of the playoff series against the Washington Capitals, saying it was "good for the confidence" but that the Canes have yet to play their best game.

5. STAY THE COURSE The Hurricanes have a 102-62 shot-attempt advantage at five-on-five through two games. If they can play the special teams to a draw and get a few big saves, they’re already doing most of what they need to do at even strength to compete in this series. If they can take it back to Washington tied 2-2, all the pressure will be on the Capitals.

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