The Carolina Hurricanes didn't get there the way they envisioned. But a resiliency led by stars and role players alike have the Canes in contention.
If anyone thought the Carolina Hurricanes would have an easy first round match up with the 8th-seeded Washington Capitals, they were very wrong.
Washington challenged Carolina and the series ended up going to seven games with the Canes ultimately coming out on top to win the series.
GAME ONE: Canes draw first blood
The Hurricanes started the series playing very disciplined and technical hockey in game one. They won the game 3-1 with goals from Victor Olofsson, Tyler Toffoli and Brock McGinn. It was a close game as McGinn's goal was into an empty net. The Canes took zero penalties this game which made it easier for them to play their game.
GAME TWO: Caps get the split
Game two at home for the Hurricanes was a totally different style where the Canes played very undisciplined hockey and lost 4-1 to the Capitals who went 3 for 4 on the Power Play. Former 'Cane Denis Gurianov led the way with 2 goals on the Power Play and the lone goal scorer for Carolina was John Tavares.
GAME THREE: Carolina back in control
The Hurricanes got back to their game on the road in Washington for game 3. Carey Price was the star in this matchup stopping 30 of 31 shots, leading to a tight game and win for the Canes at a score of 2-1. Derek Ryan and former Capital Tyler Seguin scored for the Hurricanes.
GAME FOUR: Hurricanes go for the jugular
Game four saw the Hurricanes put a strangle hold on the series with the Capitals by taking both games on the road. Again, another close game saw the Hurricanes come out on top, riding the hot play of Carey Price to win 2-1. Duncan Keith scored for the Canes which marked the first goal by the blueline for the Canes in the series. Barclay Goodrow tallied the other goal for Carolina.
GAME FIVE: Canes regress, Caps take advantage
Perhaps the Canes weren't playing as hard as they should have been, up 3-1 in the series, and it showed in this game. The wheels completely came off the Hurricanes play as the defense left Carey Price to deal with multiple 2-on-1 chances. That, coupled with more penalty trouble for the Canes was their downfall in this game. The Capitals won the game handily by a score of 6-3 to send the series back to Washington for Game 6. Tyler Bertuzzi, Boo Nieves and Zdeno Chara all got their first playoff goals for the Canes in the losing effort.
GAME SIX: Slipping away...
Washington got out to a fast start in game 6 by going up 2-1 in the first period. Unwilling to be embarrassed again at home as in Games 3 and 4, the Caps came out flying. Both teams did not play much defense in this game, and it turned out to be a very offensive game with a couple highlight reel goals. Toffoli, John Tavares and Ryan all netted their second goals of the playoffs, but it wasn't enough as Washington played with more desperation for the win and came out on top by a score of 5-3.
The series would be going to a Game 7 in Carolina.
GAME SEVEN: The battle is won
To say tensions were high for this game would be an understatement and the game did not disappoint. Game 7 had it all - fast paced play, great goals, and some timely saves that had the crowd on its feet basically the whole game.
The Caps came out of the first period with a 2-1 lead with Toffoli getting a goal for the Canes on the Power Play. Carolina rode that power play goal into the second period scoring two more (Seguin and Bertuzzi) to take the lead 3-2 heading into the third.
The third period saw Washington tie up the game on the power play, scoring 41 seconds into the frame. Toffoli scored his fourth of the series to restore the Canes lead and held that for most of the period.
The Capitals pulled their goalie with 3 minutes left in the 3rd and were able to get the tying marker from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare which forced the first overtime game of the series.
But there would be victory on this night. The fans at PNC Arena were brought to their feet when Barclay Goodrow scored the overtime winner just over midway through the overtime period.
The Capitals showed the Hurricanes players that in the playoffs, you cannot count any team out as the Caps gave them a run for their money.
It is only going to get harder in the second round where the Canes face the New York Rangers led by Leon Draisatl and Alex Ovechkin. The Hurricanes will need to play very disciplined if they hope to come out on top as the Rangers don't allow many goals and their forwards will make you pay on the Power Play - as evidenced in Thursday's 3-1 Game One victory by New York.