Raleigh, NC -- The Carolina Hurricanes face the prospect of elimination tonight in Game Five of their second-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
After taking a 4-2 lead in Game Four, Carolina let the lead slip through their hands as Tampa Bay rallied to take a 3-1 series lead coming into tonight's game.
"Obviously, we dug ourselves a hole, and now it's time to dig out of it," Jordan Martinook said Tuesday. "You have to treat every shift like it's the most important shift--do everything you can to keep moving forward."
Now, the Canes face the daunting task of winning three-straight against the team with the hottest powerplay in the league.
"We said, coming in, that [special teams] would be the difference," Canes head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "If we could stay out of the box, we have a chance...If we [commit] 5, 6, 7 penalties, it's going to be tough [to win]...Hopefully, we stay out of the box."
With Tampa's powerplay ticking along at an almost unbelievable 43% clip, Brind'Amour's diagnosis seems spot on.
At five-on-five, Carolina has held their own, if not been the better team. Only four Tampa players have a positive plus/minus rating in the series--none of them better than plus-one.
"I think we've been good five-on-five," Jordan Martinook said. "We've had a lot of chances; we've had a lot of zone time...It's no secret we need to stay out of the box and be more disciplined."
Carolina should receive a boost from the return of a couple of key players.
"We have two guys that will be taking the warmup, and we're hopefully they'll play--that's Nino and [Trocheck]," Brind'Amour said. "Foegele is 50/50."
If all three can play, Carolina will be able to get back to its regular-season forward lines.
The Canes powerplay, one of the best during the regular season, hasn't gotten many chances in this series. But when they have, it hasn't been great. With Trocheck and Niederreiter back in the lineup, Brind'Amour and Daniels might throw some curveballs at the Lightning in an attempt to spur on the Canes' powerplay.
The top unit of Aho, Staal, Teravainen, Necas, and Hamilton might be broken up or largely altered--if for no other reason than to give Tampa something new to figure out. Andrei Svechnikov, despite leading the Canes in scoring this series, has yet to score a powerplay goal. Anticipate Svechnikov making the jump back to the top unit tonight.
The starting goalie is still anyone's guess.
"I think I'll let you guys marinate on the goalie," Brind'Amour said. "We can add a little excitement to the day."
It's hard to blame Mrazek for the six-goal outing in Game Four, but it was still six goals. Expect Alex Nedeljkovic to be back in the starter's crease for Carolina.
The Canes' expected lines:
Andrei Svechnikov — Sebastian Aho — Teuvo Teravainen
Brock McGinn — Jordan Staal — Warren Foegele
Nino Niederreiter — Vincent Trocheck — Martin Necas
Jordan Martinook — Steven Lorentz — Jesper Fast
Jaccob Slavin — Dougie Hamilton
Brady Skjei — Brett Pesce
Jake Bean — Jani Hakanpaa
Scratches: James Reimer, Drew Shore, Joakim Ryan, Ronald McKeown, Maxim Lajoie, Jake Gardiner, Max McCormick, Morgan Geekie, Cedric Paquette
Tampa Bay's expected lines:
Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn — Anthony Cirelli — Steven Stamkos
Barclay Goodrow — Yanni Gourde — Blake Coleman
Patrick Maroon — Tyler Johnson — Ross Colton
Victor Hedman — Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh — Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev — David Savard
Injuries: Anders Nilsson (concussion)
Scratches: Fredrik Claesson, Andreas Borgman, Mathieu Joseph, Taylor Raddysh, Boris Katchouk, Gemel Smith, Cal Foote, Ben Thomas, Alex Barre-Boulet, Mitchell Stephens, Daniel Walcott, Spencer Martin, Luke Schenn