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Hurricanes aiming to close out Islanders as quick as possible

The Hurricanes push the Islanders to the brink of elimination, taking a 3-0 series lead at home behind 28 saves from reserve goalie Curtis McElhinney in a Game 3 win.

The Carolina Hurricanes really make it count when they get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Since the franchise moved from Hartford in 1996, the Hurricanes have made the postseason six times. Three times they’ve advanced to at least the Eastern Conference Final (and twice making the Stanley Cup Final in 2002 and 2006). On Friday night, it could be a fourth conference final appearance should they managed to finish the sweep against the New York Islanders in Game 4 (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN; Live stream).

According to the NHL, teams that take 3-0 leads in a best-of-seven series are 188-4 all-time. Only four teams, including the 1974-75 Islanders, have overcome such a deficit.

This is a new playoff experience for head coach Rod Brind’Amour with the Hurricanes. Those three conference final appearances featured him as player — twice as team captain — so he understands just how important it is to get that fourth win and not allow the slightest bit of hope to enter your opponents’ minds.

“You never look at the big picture. You’re always focused on your next game,” Brind’Amour said. “Whether we’re up three or down three, you want to be desperate to win that game. That’s the approach we have to take. You know the other team is going to be that way. They don’t have a choice. Sometimes having that tomorrow is not a good thing because when your back’s against the wall, you give it everything you can. We have to come with that mindset, as well, otherwise it’s going to be tough.”

Closing out the Islanders as soon as possible will be a huge benefit to the beat up Hurricanes. Petr Mrazek will not play in Game 4, giving Curtis McElhinney another opportunity in net. Andrei Svechnikov and Jordan Martinook returned for Game 3, but the team is still waiting on Micheal Ferland, who is still day-to-day. Trevor van Riemsdyk remains out indefinitely with an upper-body injury, while Saku Maenalanen (hand) could be healed up in time for Round 3, if Carolina does advance.

The Hurricanes have won five in a row and are undefeated (4-0) at PNC Arena this postseason. Friday night they have the opportunity to complete their first ever best-of-seven series sweep, a decade after they were swept out of the 2009 playoffs, the last time they made the postseason.

It wasn’t long ago the Hurricanes were fighting for their playoff lives and here they are on the brink of an achievement many didn’t think possible just a few weeks ago. The “bunch of jerks” have bucked the trends all season long and not allowing anything -- injuries, series deficits, higher seeds -- to stand in their way.

“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice,” said captain Justin Williams. “You don’t wait for it, you achieve it. We’re not waiting around to see what happens. We’re going to try to go get it.”

MORE: Should Isles turn to Greiss in Game 4?


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.