The Wraparound: Are the Hurricanes already facing a must-win?

·3 min read

The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

• Carolina looks to even things up with the Lightning in Game 2.

• Last night, Montreal took Game 7 in Toronto.

Want to catch up on Monday night’s playoff action? Check out the NHL Playoff Buzzer.

It’s only 1-0, but, the Lightning have struck like this before.

Carolina is down on home ice, which the Panthers certainly can relate, too. While Florida made a push in their First Round series with Tampa Bay, the Hurricanes have higher expectations. Going to Tampa down 2-0 isn’t in their plans.

The Lightning got through last round taking a 2-0 lead in Sunrise and holding on the rest of the way. Carolina is deeper, less flawed than Florida; but, knowing what the Lightning can do with an advantage, can ill-afford to head to AMALIE Arena with anything less than a tied series.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 Second Round schedule, TV info]

Carolina is no stranger to adversity, in its own way. Before finally taking the series with No. 4 seed Nashville, the Hurricanes dealt with consecutive double overtime defeats on the road.

“Nothing has come easy for this group, ever,” said Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “Nothing’s ever handed to them. Everything they’ve gotten, they’ve earned. There’s never been an easy game. It seems like there has never been anything that’s gone easily.”

While the Predators put on a competitive series, the Lightning are a different entity entirely. Losing at home to Tampa Bay and some losses in Nashville feel like a different league. The Hurricanes were certainly resilient in the First Round, but at no point did they trail in the series.

[NBC 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Now the Hurricanes will have to do it without Nino Niederreiter, who will miss the entire series after sustaining an injury in practice on Saturday. They survived the first few games against Nashville without Jaccob Slavin on the blue line, but he eventually returned as projected.

It’s another challenge for the Hurricanes, who have faced plenty of them. This challenge feels like the most dangerous, though; as relentless as the Hurricanes are, the Lightning at the least match them. They’re on a mission too, as defending Stanley Cup champions, with the best goalie in the world and the best lineup they’ve had all season.

No, Tuesday night isn’t a must-win for the Hurricanes, not exactly; yet, it really does feel like it, and that’s a credit to the beast the Lightning have created. The Panthers went to Tampa Bay and took one game after losing their first two at home, but they never really recovered in that series enough to legitimately challenge the Lightning’s chances of taking the series.

These home games, against a team like the Lightning, are as close to must-win as opening home games can be in a series.

TUESDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 2: Lightning at Hurricanes, 7:30 p.m. ET (TB leads 1-0) – NBCSN (livestream)

WEDNESDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 1: Canadiens at Jets, 7:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 2: Golden Knights at Avalanche, 10 p.m. ET (COL leads 1-0) – NBCSN (livestream)

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Marisa Ingemi is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop her a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Ingemi.

The Wraparound: Are the Hurricanes already facing a must-win? originally appeared on NBCSports.com