Neither team practiced on the off day before Saturday night’s Game 2 in Raleigh, with Florida leading the series 1-0 after a 3-2, quadruple-overtime thriller. Game 1 finished at 79:47 of overtime play.
For Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour, the day off was a chance to rest after leading all skaters with 57:56 of ice time and skating over eight miles in the game, according to the NHL.
“Surprisingly, I still had some energy,” Montour said. “But at the end of the game, I was really happy we got the win. Then it was straight to rest and recovery.”
Both teams did whatever they could to rejuvenate during the game, from downing caffeinated beverages to munching on salty snacks, granola bars and fruit. Carolina defenseman Brady Skjei said he ate four bananas between periods. Florida’s Eric Staal stuck with apples and oranges, saying he would burp up bananas.
The physical toll was one aspect of Game 1. Then there was the emotional and mental strain. Before the Panthers won in four overtimes, they thought they had won in the first overtime. But winger Ryan Lomberg‘s goal was overturned on video review because the NHL determined that the Panthers’ Colin White had interfered with goalie Frederik Andersen.
“You get the overtime winner, there’s a celebration, a release. But then it’s, ‘Oh, just kidding,'” said Panthers coach Paul Maurice. “I was really impressed that we went back to work, that we didn’t lose our composure in a situation where you easily could have. That’s a statement of our group. We’ve had a few of those moments [in the playoffs] where we get tested and you say, ‘Let’s just go back to work.'”
For the Hurricanes, getting back to work was the only thing to do after a devastating loss.
“It was a weird day and a long day and not a great day for us. But that day is over,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We’ve done this for five years. The mentality of doing your best today, and then when tomorrow comes, you focus on that day.”
Hurricanes forward Stefan Noesen said the game was “a tough one to swallow” but that the exhaustion of four overtimes meant a better than usual night of sleep.
“I was out cold pretty quickly. Usually takes me a couple hours, but playing 40 minutes of hockey takes a toll on you for sure,” he said.
Brind’Amour said the four-overtime game changed the plans for the Hurricanes’ off-day. The players weren’t coming to PNC Arena for an optional skate or meetings. They were at home and resting.
“That was not originally part of the plan, but [Saturday] will be regular day,” he said.
Goalies Sergei Bobrovsky and Anderson both played 124:44 on Thursday. Maurice said he has no concerns about running Bobrovsky back for Game 2. But Brind’Amour said he won’t know Andersen’s status until Saturday.
The Hurricanes have a capable backup goalie in Antti Raanta, who has stellar numbers on home ice, in case they wanted to give Andersen time to recuperate for the rest of the series. Brind’Amour said he was “definitely considering” a load management decision for his goaltenders ahead of Game 2.
“You have to. The guy played the whole game,” Brind’Amour said of Andersen.
But for his skaters, however, the Hurricanes coach indicated that load management might not come into play.
“I’ve got a 38-year-old in the back end,” Brind’Amour said of defenseman Brent Burns, who played over 54 minutes in Game 1. “Maybe I shouldn’t go to him [in Game 2]. But I can tell you right now that if I confronted him, he would punch me in the face. This is why they play the games, to get in these moments. So I guess that answers [the question] for the rest of the guys too.”
Game 2 is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET Saturday.
“I expect both teams to bounce back and be ready to go,” Staal said. “I know the way we train and prepare ourselves. Our guys are in phenomenal shape. I’m pretty well aware of how Roddy trains, so I’m sure the rest of [the Hurricanes] are the same. It’ll be highly competitive. The pace will be there. The juices will be flowing.”
Rest up – Panthers, Canes skip practice after marathon Game 1