Five points for the Hurricanes going into Game 4

Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney on Boston’s Tuukka Rask : ‘He was putting on a show tonight’

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney addresses the media following the Hurricanes' loss to Boston
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Carolina Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney addresses the media following the Hurricanes' loss to Boston

1. SEEDS OF DOUBT Justin Williams talked Wednesday about the necessity of introducing any little bit of doubt into the Bruins’ minds. Only once in this series, leading going into the third period of Game 1, have the Hurricanes done that. The Boston fans and media will turn on Tuukka Rask as quickly as they have anointed him if the Hurricanes can get a few past him; that’s their path back into the series. “We’ve got to try and create a little of that doubt,” Williams said. “We’ve been hit three times but it takes four to knock us down. We’ll keep showing up.”

Justin Williams and Jordan Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes address media on May 15, 2019, a day before Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. Trailing the Boston Bruins 3-0 in the series, the Canes players remain hopeful of a comeback.

2. DENTAL HYGIENE The Hurricanes addressed any mental and physical fatigue concerns with Rod Brind’Amour’s toothpaste analogy: You can always squeeze a little more out of the tube. That’s a nifty motivational aphorism but there is a point where the tube’s been curled up and pushed to the end and there’s nothing left. The Hurricanes might be there after brushing, flossing and rinsing in the first period Tuesday with nothing to show for it.

Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour reviews the 2-1 playoff loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals while also looking ahead to Game 4 at PNC Arena. The Canes must win May 16, 2019 to extend their season.

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3. THE POWER PLAY The Hurricanes have one, apparently. Moving along.

4. LIVE IN THE MOMENT There’s a lot of talk about how these playoffs are merely a building block for next year, but a word of caution there. The Hurricanes may be younger now, but they still said similar things in 2002 and 2006 and 2009. There are no guarantees, especially in the Metropolitan Division. And next year is anything but settled: At the moment, Alex Nedeljkovic is the only goalie under contract. The Hurricanes may be in a position where their postseason predecessors are 4-185, but who knows how long it will be before they play another conference finals Game 4? Savor it, as long as it lasts.

Carolina Hurricanes’ Calvin de Haan (44) is surrounded by teammates after scoring during the second period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. Robert Willett

5. COMFORTS OF HOME It’s a long season at PNC Arena. This is the 51st hockey game since September (never mind basketball) and maybe the last. If it is, we would be remiss not to thank the security guards, elevator operators and catering staff who make everything run smoothly behind the scenes, whose friendliness and competence go beyond the call. There are too many to name individually, but they know who they are.

Carolina Hurricanes fans cheer against the Boston Bruins during the third period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. Boston won 2-1. Travis Long

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Sports columnist Luke DeCock has covered the Summer Olympics, the Final Four, the Super Bowl and the Carolina Hurricanes’ Stanley Cup. He joined The News & Observer in 2000 to cover the Hurricanes and the NHL before becoming a columnist in 2008. A native of Evanston, Ill., he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and has won multiple national and state awards for his columns and feature writing while twice being named North Carolina Sportswriter of the Year.