Hurricanes on mission as they look to Eastern Conference Finals

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Survival's a heckuva motivating factor, so you had to know the Islanders were going to be shot out of a rocket to start game four Friday night.

Sure enough, one Andrei Svechnikov high sticking penalty later, Matt Barzal had pumped in a rebound for a 1-0 lead.

The Islanders, it turned out - had just fired their last, best shot.

When the Canes quickly equalized through Sebastian Aho (technically off an Islander), PNC was once again ignited and It was only a matter of time.

The Canes came for blood in game four, with Jordan Martinook and Greg McKegg delivering rib-rattling hits. It was clear that any intensity the Isles might have brought was going to be more than matched.

The second period was showtime. Sebastian Aho, Warren Foegele and Teuvo Teravainen combined for an all-world goal to make it 2-1. It appeared to break New York. Not long after, Greg McKegg, a huge part of what has been a dominant Canes fourth line in this series, found a goal at his feet for 3-1.

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That was it for goalie Robin Lehner. A Vezina candidate for the league's top goalie award, he had no answers for Carolina.

His backup, Thomas Greiss has dominated the Canes in previous appearances but was soon beaten himself with Jordan Staal flipping to Justin Williams for a three-goal lead.

Given a chance to close this series in four games, the Canes weren't messing around.

The main storylines for me out of this series:

1) The utter dominance of Jaccob Slavin. His assists are a bonus, but the Canes defenseman showed the entire league what an elite defenseman looks like. No one uses their stick better and when that's not available, his body position is impeccable. When all else fails, he uses his wits to defuse almost any threat.

2) The fourth 4th line was impactful in most every game. Patrick Brown, Greg McKegg and Lucas Wallmark didn't light up the scoresheet but they seemed to win almost every shift, setting the stage for the Canes skill guys.

3) Goaltending remains a strength. As we saw in the regular season, the Canes have two legit starting caliber goalies. When Petr Mrazek got hurt, Curtis McElhinney stepped in without so much as a hiccup.

4) Inexperience has meant nothing. Sure, the Canes have the ultimate ace in Justin Williams, but most of the roster is new to this and they have not shrunk from the limelight. A 7-game first round grind didn't linger at all, in fact, the youth of this team may be paying dividends as they only seemed to get stronger vs the Isles as things went on.

5) This team is on a mission. They believe in their gameplan, they believe in their leadership and maybe most importantly, they believe in each other. To a man, they trust. That cannot be overstated at this time of the year.

Bring on the Bruins or Blue Jackets. Whoever survives that series has a fight on their hands.
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