Hurricanes rout Caps in 1st home playoff game since ‘09

Hurricanes 5 Capitals 0

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes waited 10 long years to finally bring the playoffs back to town. They almost seemed determined to cram a decade’s worth of goals and hits into one game.

Rookie forward Warren Foegele had two goals and an assist, Dougie Hamilton also scored twice and the Hurricanes routed the Washington Capitals 5-0 on Monday night in their first home playoff game since 2009.

“We were relentless. We just kept going at them,” Hamilton said. “The crowd was unbelievable. It was one of the loudest buildings I’ve ever played in, and just so fun.”

Petr Mrazek earned his fourth career post-season shutout. Brock McGinn had a late goal and an assist, and Jaccob Slavin and Jordan Staal each had two assists.

The rapid-fire Hurricanes outshot Washington 45-18 to cut the defending Stanley Cup champions’ lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

Playing with just 10 forwards after losing two to injuries in the first period, Carolina effectively rolled with three lines the rest of the way and fed off an amped-up crowd releasing 10 years of pent-up frustration with every hit.

The result: Carolina’s most lopsided post-season victory since a 5-0 win over Edmonton in Game 2 of the 2006 Stanley Cup final.

“Absolutely electric,” captain Justin Williams said.

Mrazek finished with 18 saves in his fifth career playoff victory — the last four have been shutouts.

Braden Holtby stopped 40 shots for Washington, which had its six-game post-season winning streak snapped. The Capitals were shut out in the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

“We just stopped playing,” captain Alex Ovechkin said. “We can’t play like that if we want to win. We’re better than that.”

Washington won all four regular-season meetings with its longtime division rival — first in the old Southeast, now in the Metropolitan — before winning the first two games of this series on home ice.

The first post-season game in Raleigh since 2009 — when Carolina was swept by Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference final — was a physical, borderline violent affair, headlined by Ovechkin’s first career playoff fight, one that sent Hurricanes rookie Andrei Svechnikov’s head crashing onto the ice and knocked him out of the game.

Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said he didn’t have an update on his 19-year-old forward.

“I thought we were engaged from the start, and we were physical,” Foegele said. “We all battled together. All 20 guys battled hard. … (Svechnikov is) our brother, and we stand up for each other. We knew we needed to get this win, not just for us, but for him.”

Svechnikov was one of two Carolina forwards to sustain upper-body injuries in the first 10 minutes — physical winger Micheal Ferland was hurt about 2 minutes earlier — and that left the Hurricanes’ bench short for the final 2 1/2 periods.

There was nothing at all wrong with Foegele, who had his team’s first two-goal post-season game since Eric Staal in Game 4 against Boston in the second round in 2009.

Foegele’s first goal was a bit of a fluke — he was locked up in front of the net and was clipped by Justin Faulk’s shot from the point that got past Holtby — but there wasn’t anything cheap about his second one. He parked to the right of Holtby, took a feed from Sebastian Aho past a sliding Matt Niskanen and snapped the puck past the goalie to make it 2-0 with 13:51 left in the second.

“I think I play aggressive and I play hard,” Foegele said. “I love these moments. I think all of us love these moments. This is when it counts. This is when it matters. You just put in your full effort and hope for the best result.”

Foegele had a breakaway late in the second with a chance at the first post-season hat trick in club history, but Holtby stopped him — and then the rookie earned a slashing penalty for whacking the goalie’s chest and pads while reaching for the rebound.

By then, Hamilton had started his scoring binge, ripping a pair of power-play shots past Holtby, with his two insurance goals equaling his previous career playoff total.

NOTES: Foegele’s only other two-goal game in the NHL came in the third game of the regular season, an 8-5 win over the New York Rangers on Oct. 7. … The Capitals had just one shot on goal in the second period. … This was Carolina’s first post-season victory since May 14, 2009, when Scott Walker scored in overtime of Game 7 against Boston.

UP NEXT

Carolina will look to even the series at two games apiece in Game 4 on Thursday night in Raleigh.

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