Hurricanes’ hero: McGinn saves, then wins Game 7 for Carolina in double OT

McGinn comes up the hero in Hurricanes’ Game 7 win

Brock McGinn talks about his game-winning goal and the stress of the series as the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Washington Capitals, 4-3, in Game 7 on the First Round.
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Brock McGinn talks about his game-winning goal and the stress of the series as the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Washington Capitals, 4-3, in Game 7 on the First Round.

First he saved Game 7 for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Then, in double overtime, Brock McGinn won it.

McGinn deflected a Justin Williams cross past Washington goalie Braden Holtby midway through double overtime, giving Carolina a 4-3 victory and a 4-3 series win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals.

The Hurricanes may never have been in that position if not for McGinn’s game-saving defensive play late in the third period. The puck had slipped past goalie Petr Mrazek, trickled into the crease and appeared headed for the net before McGinn dove to swat it away, preserving a 3-3 tie.

“I saw it kind of squeak through Petr there a bit. I don’t know if had enough steam to cross the line,” McGinn said. “I don’t think I was taking that chance.”

McGinn, 25, was a second-round pick by the Hurricanes in 2012. The Ontario, Canada, native made his NHL debut during the 2015-16 season, scoring a goal on his first shift. Older brothers Jamie and Tye also played in the NHL.

Over the last two years, McGinn has established himself as a regular, scoring 26 goals in 162 regular-season games. The numbers aren’t gaudy — 26 goals is half a season’s work for Washington’s superstar forward Alexander Ovechkin — but McGinn has made an impact.

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Carolina Hurricanes’ Brock McGinn (23) tries to score on Washington Capitals’ goalie Braden Holtby (70) in the first overtime period during Game 7 of their first round Stanley Cup series on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C Robert Willett

“He’s been great. He’s a Hurricane. He does it the way we want out of our players. He doesn’t get any credit and nobody talks about him but he’s a glue guy and we have a lot of those on our team,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’amour said. “This time of year, those are the guys that can really be the difference.”

But McGinn — like a generation of homegrown Canes — had never reached the playoffs. In its first playoff series since 2009, Carolina drew the Capitals, a battle-tested team that overcame its own playoff demons with a run to the Cup in 2018.

Facing Game 7 in Washington, where Carolina had not led during the series, the Hurricanes quickly fell behind 2-0 in the first period. The Hurricanes, McGinn said, slowly built confidence throughout the game, cutting the deficit to 3-2 after two periods and tying it early in the third.

By the time they’d reached double overtime, they looked to Williams — nicknamed “Mr. Game 7” for his career-long heroics in previous series deciders.

“He’s awesome in this room. He settles us down,” McGinn said.

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Carolina Hurricanes left wing Brock McGinn (23) celebrates his game-winning goal with right wing Justin Williams (14) and defenseman Brett Pesce (22), in double overtime of Game 7 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series against the Washington Capitals, Wednesday, April 24, 2019, in Washington. The Hurricanes won 4-3 in double overtime. Nick Wass AP

In the second overtime, he did more than that. Holtby turned back a low Williams wrister. About four minutes later, Williams tracked down a Jaccob Slavin pass in the corner and fired another one toward the net. This time, McGinn streaking toward goal, got his stick on it.

McGinn, fending off Capitals’ forward Tom Wilson for position, was able to keep his feet out of the crease for his second goal of the series — and first game-winning goal of the season.

“We just wanted to get pucks toward the net,” he said. “Willie kind of threw it there, and i just stick on the ice going there. Fortunately it was able to go off my stick and into the net.”

McGinn jumped for joy, bounding off the ice time and again as the Hurricanes swarmed, celebrating their first playoff win in a decade.

“There are so many guys in this dressing room that have been here through some low times and not making the playoffs,” he said, “so i think to just come out of this Game 7 on top, it’s really big for this organization.”

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour talks about how he knew his squad was different than other NHL teams.

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Brian Murphy covers North Carolina’s congressional delegation and state issues from Washington, D.C., for The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer and The Herald-Sun. He grew up in Cary and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill. He previously worked for news organizations in Georgia, Idaho and Virginia. Reach him at 202.383.6089 or