Carolina and Washington have fought a brutal series going back and forth, and it was going all the way to game 7. Winner moves on, loser goes home.
It had been a hard series to watch. For the Carolina Hurricanes, it was simple. Be the first team to win on the road in this series. Not an impossible task, but a daunting one. Washington had won their 3rd straight Metropolitan Division title.
Carolina had stole a playoff spot as the first wild-card. Only 5 points separated the teams in the standings, however. It was a perfect match-up of speed and experience.
Quickly, the reigning Stanley Cup Champions took the lead. Brett Pesce turned the puck over in his corner, and that was punished by the Capitals. Andre Burakovsky steals the puck and dances around the diving defender, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and slaps the puck in past Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek. 1-0 Washington early.
Quickly 1 became 2. A great stretch pass out finds the great 8, Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin does Ovechkin style things that involved dancing around two defenders before playing a perfect pass over to his linemate and goon who made no mistake. Tom Wilson made no mistake, and he finished the play to put Washington up 2-0 in game 7. Carolina needed to wake up and quickly.
But it continued to be more of the same as Mrazek continued to stop shot after shot. Mrazek standing on his head is the only reason this game was even close. Carolina did not show up in the first period, and at the end of 20 minutes, they were lucky it was only 2-0 Washington. It could have been a touchdown to the Capitals.
The second period starts, and Washington find themselves on the powerplay. But it was Carolina’s Finn twins that would strike. Sebastian Aho carries the puck over the line and throws a muffin on the goal that Braden Holtby doesn’t deal with well. Rebound comes back to Aho and the man named “Fishy” by his teammates makes no mistake as he gets the Hurricanes on the board. 2-1 Caps.
Washington would quickly restore their 2 goal lead, with Carl Hagelin carrying the puck over the blue line, he drops it back to the other Russian forward for the Capitals, and Evgeny Kuznetzov puts the puck past Mrazek to make it 3-1 Washington and continued to hold the Hurricanes surge (pun intended) at bay.
Carolina would get it back before the end of the period, this time through the other Finn. A puck battle in the corner squirts out to Pesce at the point. Pesce lays a slow shot on and a brilliant play by Aho, lifting the stick of a Capital in the slot, allows the puck to trickle through to Teuvo Teravainen, and Turbo makes no mistake. Carolina back within one at the end of 40. Carolina needs a goal.
Three minutes into period number three, Carolina would get that goal. Jordan Staal would skate into the zone, and spy Holtby a little too far over to his near post. Staal may have hands of stone, but he’s still an NHL player, and he tucks the puck away. Game tied at 3, and it was getting into that time, where the next goal would end the series.
Washington then went back to their first-period form. Skating circles around Carolina, trying to find a way past Mrazek, but Mrazek continued to stand tall. Making save after save on shots from Capitals. It is important to note both Mrazek’s efforts and how quickly Washington were skating circles around the Canes.
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Eventually, one would get past Mrazek again. Wilson taking a powerful shot from the edge of the crease, and Mrazek just cannot hold onto it. Fortunately for Mrazek and the Hurricanes, Brock McGinn was there to do his best impression of Dominik Hasek and to keep the score tied at three, forcing overtime because the Carolina Hurricanes are just not simply capable of an easy game 7 win.
In overtime, it was Carolina that took the ascendancy. Holtby was forced to work and work as the Canes just moved the Capitals all around the ice. Washington was starting to look tired in overtime, and the hard work and conditioning of the Carolina Hurricanes was starting to pay off. Rod Brind’amour and his fitness techniques were helping Carolina at this point.
At the end of 80 minutes, you could not split the teams still. Carolina was looking the more likely to win the game, but they’re still needed to be a goal scorer. Someone was going to become a name never forgotten by their franchise. Second overtime was about to start. Carolina needed someone to score that wasn’t one of the Ahovainen combination.
Brock McGinn, step forward.
Justin Williams grabs the puck in the corner. Mr. Game 7 throws it into the slot, where Brock steps forward and knocks it past Holtby. It had taken 5 periods of hockey, but there was a winner. Carolina had beaten the beast that was the Washington Capitals, they had beaten the division champions and reigning cup champions.
Carolina had completed a historic set of results. All 4 wild card teams had won their playoff series meaning all 4 division winners were out. All 4 Wild Card teams had won in a different amount of games. Columbus won in 4, Colorado in 5, Dallas in 6, Carolina in 7. A year of mayhem with the exclamation point that was this Hurricanes team. Carolina now had a date with the New York Islanders.