Preview: Hurricanes at Capitals
Carolina Hurricanes captain Justin Williams is affectionately known as "Mr. Game 7" for his penchant of delivering when a playoff series is pushed to its limit. Boasting an NHL-record 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in Game 7s, Williams and the Hurricanes will look to land the knockout blow on Wednesday when they visit the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals in Washington.
"We answered the bell," said the 37-year-old Williams, who owns a 7-1 mark in Game 7s. "I said from the start of the series, if they're going to knock us out, we're not going to let it be easy on them. Let's go play another game." The three-time Stanley Cup champion rocked the reigning title holders by scoring a goal in Monday's 5-2 win, giving upstart Carolina a chance to advance to the second round after failing to qualify for the playoffs in each season since 2008-09. While the Hurricanes own a 4-0 mark in Game 7s since relocating from Hartford, Washington's garish record improved to 5-11 following last year's 4-0 win over Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference final. "I don't think anyone expected it to be easy," Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "They played well all series. We were up 2-0 and we were probably fortunate to be up 2-0, and we've been good on home ice and now we have a Game 7, and it is probably good that we have home ice."
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, Sportsnet, Sportsnet 360, TVAS, FS Carolinas, NBCS Washington
ABOUT THE HURRICANES: Jordan Staal recorded his second two-point performance of the series and fourth this month when he collected a goal and an assist in Game 6, extending Carolina's dream season at least one more game. "Anything can happen in Game 7. It's what you dream of playing as a kid. I know everyone in this group is excited," the 30-year-old Staal said. Rookie Warren Foegele scored on Monday to boost his point total to eight (six goals, two assists) in his last eight contests overall, although he has just one -- an assist in Game 2 -- in his last three visits to Washington.
ABOUT THE CAPITALS: Captain Alex Ovechkin continued his scoring spree by tallying in his third consecutive contest on Monday, although his potential tying goal in the third period was denied after officials ruled that he interfered with Petr Mrazek. "Game 7 is going to be very interesting. We know how to play that. Pressure on both teams, but it's a good chance for us to beat them at home," said Ovechkin, who has four goals and three assists in Game 7s. Former Vezina Trophy recipient Braden Holtby owns a 3-4 mark in Game 7s despite posting a 1.81 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.
1. Wednesday's winner advances to face the New York Islanders in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
2. Carolina is the 10th NHL club in the Expansion Era to force a Game 7 in the opening round against the defending Stanley Cup champion.
3. The home team has won all six games in this series.
PREDICTION: Capitals 3, Hurricanes 2