Foegele, Canes look to Game 4
The Carolina Hurricanes have the Washington Capitals’ full attention.
Getting beat 5-0 can do that to a team. Getting beat 5-0 in the Stanley Cup playoffs can’t be ignored or forgiven.
In the first two games of their Eastern Conference playoff series, the Caps had their way. They were the defending Stanley Cup champions and played it that way, winning twice in Washington, taking a 2-0 series lead, arriving in Raleigh a loose, confident hockey team.
And then 5-0 happened. The Caps expected PNC Arena to be fully alive in Game 3. They didn’t expect to skate into the belly of the beast, facing a red sea of Canes fans and one stoked Hurricanes hockey team.
And from the moment the Caps’ Alex Ovechkin knocked out Canes rookie forward Andrei Svechnikov in their fight, in the first period, the Caps found themselves in both an electrically charged and suddenly enraged atmosphere, Canes fans wanting blood, wanting retribution as their team built the lead -- 2-0, 3-0, 4-0, 5-0.
“That was an emotional game for a lot of people in the building,” Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Wednesday.
The Canes’ Warren Foegele was all over the ice, scoring goals, being a pest. Dougie Hamilton was a force on the power play. Jordan Staal at times appeared to be a man among boys, getting in 10 hits. The crowd loved all of it.
“We knew they would make a push and the fans would be cheering and it would be loud,” Ovechkin said Wednesday. “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, you have to move forward. It’s the playoffs and what’s happened has happened.”
And so we arrive at Game 4.
After Thursday’s game, the Canes will either have tied the series or trail 3-1 going back to Washington for Game 5, which will have an 8 p.m. start Saturday. It’s that simple now, that elementary.
Before Game 3, Canes captain Justin Williams called it a matter of “taking care of business” at home. It still is.
“It’s never a must-game until it is but it is for us,” Brind’Amour said. “Give our best effort -- that’s it, that’s all we talk about. If it’s not good enough it’s not good enough, but we know we have to play a certain way to give ourselves a chance against these guys.
“If the bounces don’t go your way or something happens, we have another game and that’s nice to know. But we’re definitely approaching it like we’ve got to win.”
The Canes will have to do it without Svechnikov, sidelined indefinitely with a concussion. Also missing Thursday will be forward Micheal Ferland, who left Monday’s game with an upper-body injury and was not at practice Wednesday -- both teams used Tuesday as an off-day.
Forwards Saku Maenalanen, who played in Game 2, and Patrick Brown will go into the lineup on the fourth line centered by Greg McKegg. Brown was recalled Tuesday from the Charlotte Checkers, who are preparing for the start of the AHL Calder Cup playoffs.
“To lose two forwards in your top six, or however you look at it, is obviously not ideal,” Brind’Amour said. “But next man up and we’ve got guys we feel real confident in to at least chip away at what we’re missing there.”
With Svechnikov out, Foegele will move to Jordan Staal’s line opposite Williams. He’s not out of place, having been the game’s first star Monday, having scored four goals in his last five games, including the last two of the regular season.
“He’s a very tenacious player, works hard, shoots the puck hard, does all the right things,” Staal said. “He’s a player who brings a lot of energy. He gets his linemates going, gets everyone fired up.”
Foegele, 23, had PNC Arena fired up Monday after scoring the first goal of the game, giving the Canes their first lead in the series. He first forced a turnover in the Caps zone, then later planted himself in front of goalie Braden Holtby, where he got a piece of the puck on a Justin Faulk shot.
Foegele made it 2-0 in the second with a score off the rush, taking a pass from Sebastian Aho and again beating Holtby. Hamilton scored twice on the power play, Brock McGinn added a final goal and the victory was complete as goalie Petr Mrazek earned the shutout.
Foegele made the Canes roster out of training with hard-nosed play and 200-foot hustle. He’s relentless in hounding the puck, a sandpaper type of player with an edge to his game that belies his boy-next-door looks. The Stanley Cup playoffs might be the biggest stage in hockey but Foegele said he is enjoying it, relishing it.
“These are the games you’ve been dreaming about since you were little, these do-or-die games,” he said.