–The win was nowhere near as dominant but was equally impressive. The Hurricanes were not able to overwhelm the Caps on Thursday but we still the better team even if the margin was slim.
–The story of the game for me was the blue line and Petr Mrazek. In a game that was frenetic at times and against a strong scoring opponent, the Hurricanes blue line really gave up very little. One could count the volume of breakdowns on one hand which is impressive. Mrazek was flawless in a game that had no room for flaws, so kudos to him too.
–In terms of the offense, the play by Slavin to force Holtby to commit to a backhand shot was phenomenal and left Foegele with half a net to shoot into. Teravainen’s goal was also clutch and well-timed. The Capitals were the better team in the second period, so to score with under 30 seconds remaining to reclaim the one-goal lead entering the third period was obviously huge.
–Lucas Wallmark continues to impress me. He had two really good backchecking plays to thwart chances that would likely have been goals, had a couple nice playmaking plays and in general just played another solid hockey game.
After a dominating win on Monday, Canes fans had to hope that the momentum continued into game 4 on Thursday. And early on, that seemed reasonable. Only 17 seconds into the game a Canes rush saw Jaccob Slavin join the play and end up with the puck on his stick flying toward the net. He made a nifty play pulling the puck to his backhand much like his patented shootout move. When Braden Holtby bit on it, Slavin quickly passed the puck across to Warren Foegele who made no mistake finishing into a half empty net. But unfortunately that play was not an omen of complete domination that was to come. Instead, even with the Canes pushing again, the Capitals did not look overwhelmed and actually were able to counterattack. The result was an evenly played first period but no additional scoring, as the Hurricanes entered the first intermission still with a 1-0 lead.
The Hurricanes started sluggishly in the second period and very nearly paid the price for it on multiple occasions. Mrazek made a couple of saves, and as much as anything the Capitals just seemed to barely miss on a couple potential scoring plays. The Hurricanes were outplayed for a period for the first time since returning home for game 3. The Hurricanes were sloppy and lackadaisical early in the second period. Then later in the period, the Capitals were just the better team. When Alexander Ovechkin scored on the power play at the midway point of the game, the game officially became a nail biter. But Teuvo Teravainen scored a huge goal with just under 30 seconds remaining in the period. The move was an individual effort on a breakaway which staked the Hurricanes to the same one-goal lead with which they started the second period.
The third period saw the Hurricanes simplify things and maybe a bit too much ease up on their attacking style. On the one hand, the Canes had a strong night sorting things out defensively and defending in their own zone. On the other hand, the Canes were sometimes a bit too conservative which led to too many turnovers. But Mrazek stood tall and the Hurricanes defense is built upon sound defensive acumen as a strategy. The Hurricanes never did score in the third period, but neither did the Capitals. The end result was a hard-fought 2-1 loss and convert it to a win for the acquiring company.
Player and other notes
1) Petr Mrazek
The Hurricanes defense did a decent job of taking away odd many rushes and grade A scoring opportunities, but Mrazek was still more tested than on Monday. With no margin for error in a type game, Mrazek would need to be perfect to win, and that is exactly what happened.
2) Lucas Wallmark
He has had a really good series. Wallmark reminds me of Victor Rask (the good one) in that he is incredibly good at making decisions and taking away passing lanes in the neutral zone. He has also been generating shots for line mates.
3) Calvin de Haan
In his return, de Haan had a few plays where he was too impatient in terms of moving the puck, but otherwise he stepped into his normal role on the penalty and being steady defending in his own end.
4) The blue line in total
Mrazek deserves credit for only allowing a single goal in the win, but I really thought the story of the game was the defensemen. Justin Faulk has played better at home. Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce were both incredibly good in terms of taking away time and space and winning pucks. Hamilton also continued his strong play.
5) The Warren Foegele hit on T. J. Oshie
Let me start by saying that I thought the hit did deserve a penalty. In general, the injury occurred when Oshie was unable to right the ship after getting off balance. The injury was more a result of being off balance, but I do think Foegele could have and needed to ease up on the last little shove he gave Oshie.
Next up is a return to Washington, D.C. for game 5 on Saturday.