RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Less than twelve hours after the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Washington Capitals in a double-overtime thriller, fans were lining up inside PNC Arena to purchase their Round 2 tickets.
"The Canes came out more aggressive, more prepared, and more calm than Washington was. Washington appeared to be flat in the overtimes. I think it says a lot about (head coach Rod) Brind'Amour. It's us, the team. I mean what more can you ask for -- it's just great," said fan Dick Kanning, who showed up shortly before 11:30 Thursday morning to secure his seats.
Carolina was down 2-0 and 3-2 in the series, sweeping all three home games in front of a raucous home crowd at PNC Arena to even the series.
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In Game 7, the Hurricanes were down 2-0 after the first period, and 3-1 late in the second period before mounting a comeback. After a scoreless first overtime, Brock McGinn tapped in a Justin Williams pass in the second overtime to win the game, and clinch the series.
Making the comeback even more amazing, the Hurricanes did not hold a lead in any of the four road games in the series.
"The thing that's really differentiating this team versus other teams in the league is they may not have the talent level of a lot of the other teams that are this far into the playoffs but their work ethic, how hard they're working, how much they support each other - I think totally comes from Rod's personality," explained season ticket-holder Warren Kurtzman.
Kurtzman's office features several Hurricane mementos, including a picture from the 2006 Stanley Cup-clinching victory and Stanley Cup tickets signed by Brind'Amour.
But this team is far removed from the Hurricanes' previous heyday, with a decade-long playoff drought zapping fan enthusiasm until this season. The team's "Storm Surge" celebrations attracted international attention, and they've been one of the hottest teams in the league over the past four months. The on-ice success has brought renewed energy into PNC Arena, creating a major home-ice advantage.
"What's been great this year is actually enjoying the experience with the other fans. Everybody high-fiving each other, people yelling in the hallways. It's just been a big party," said Kurtzman.
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In an effort to maintain that energy, the Hurricanes limited the sale of playoff tickets to North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia residents until noon Friday - giving local fans a 24-hour head start.
According to NHL.com, the cheapest ticket for Game 3 as of Thursday afternoon was about $188, including service fees.
In Round 2, they'll be facing off against the New York Islanders, another team who defied preseason expectations. The match-up will create an interesting challenge in the relationship of UNC students Brenden Belluardo and Alex Steffens, who are boyfriend and girlfriend supporting different sides of this series.
"I always get so mad because the couple times that we watched Canes-Islanders, the Islanders have won here. And so I don't speak to him, I just get in the car and look out the window," said Steffens, a Canes fan, hoping for a reversal of fortunes this series.
"I was on the edge of my seat. I'm actually a Canes fan second, so I was just excited that they get to play and I get to see my team here," added Belluardo, an Islanders fan, about last night's game.
The pair were part of a line that stretched nearly to the door shortly after noon, with fans filing in throughout the early afternoon. The first person in line showed up at 9:50, more than two hours after tickets went on sale.
Game 1 is Friday night in New York at 7 p.m.
The first Hurricanes home game, Game 3 of the series, is Wednesday, May 1 at 7 p.m. with Game 4 on Friday, May 3 at 7 p.m. If necessary, a third home game, Game 6, would take place Tuesday, May 7.
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