BOSTON — After a 6-2 blowout against the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, Carolina Hurricanes captain Justin Williams said his team needs to rediscover who they are — and that process might not be so palatable.
“You spend all this time leading up, with everyone writing articles about how great we are,” Williams said Sunday. “You come out, and sometimes you gotta eat a poop sandwich. It doesn’t taste good. You have to chew on it for a couple days, we’ll have to do it for a couple days, and hopefully get the taste out next game.”
After allowing just five goals over four games to the New York Islanders in the second round, the Hurricanes have allowed the Bruins to score 11 goals in the first two games of this series. Carolina is in an 0-2 hole with Game 3 on Tuesday in Raleigh.
It was an eventful game for the 37-year-old Williams, who was baited in the second period into taking a holding penalty after an altercation with Bruins winger Brad Marchand. As Williams skated to the penalty box, Marchand appeared to taunt him by pointing to the box and miming a “C” on his chest. The Bruins scored on the ensuing power play.
Williams scored the Canes’ first goal in the third period, but by then, the game was out of hand, as Boston had already built a 6-0 lead.
“I think he was a little frustrated that he fell down,” Marchand said of the altercation. “But it was just good that we capitalized on that opportunity. I’ve been on that side plenty of times. It’s not fun. He’s their captain. He’s their leader over there and bounced back with a big goal late to get them going. So he’s got a lot of character, he plays hard, and he’s a good player for them.”
When asked if he was showing Williams which way the penalty box was, Marchand laughed. “Yeah, I guess,” he said.
On the penalty, Williams said. “I’m old enough. I gotta know better.”
There was some curiosity as to why Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour did not pull goalie Petr Mrazek. The 27-year-old goaltender sustained a groin injury in Game 2 of the second-round series against the Islanders and missed Games 3 and 4 before returning this series.
Brind’Amour, a rookie NHL head coach, has not pulled a goaltender for performance all season. Mrazek has given up 10 straight goals in this series.
Brind’Amour said the only bad goal was the first one, which “was no good, and he knows that.” The coach said he considered pulling Mrazek and chatted about it, but the goalie said he didn’t want to come out.
“He’s a battler,” Brind’Amour said. “A lot of other guys on the bench deserve to come out if that’s what we’re doing. That’s not how we do it.”
The Hurricanes also fell behind 0-2 in their first-round series against the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. They won the next two games at home and won the series in Game 7. Williams is nicknamed “Mr. Game 7,” as he has scored 15 goals in nine Game 7s — the most in NHL history — and orchestrated Brock McGinn’s game-winning goal against the Capitals with an assist.
“We certainly don’t think we can’t do it,” Williams said of climbing out of another 0-2 hole. “If they are going to advance, we’re certainly going to make it as tough as we can on them, and it won’t be easy.”
Williams promised that his team will be much better when it returns to Raleigh.
“We gotta chew on it,” Williams said, referring to his sandwich metaphor. “And Game 3 is ours.”