The Hurricanes lost the seventh-game coin flip.

Remember when we talked about the Carolina Hurricanes playing with fire because they had not won a single road game?

The Canes not only lost all six playoff games away from PNC Arena, they did so by an aggregate score of 26-10. That’s bad and dangerous. So after failing to close out the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, Carolina was left to stay undefeated at home in the do-or-die Game 7 Monday night.

And the Hurricanes fell prey to the statistic in hockey that the team scoring first wins 70 percent of the time. The Rangers upped their odds to 99 percent by jumping out to a 3-0 lead after two periods and 5-1 in the third before eventually ending the favored Canes’ season, 6-2.

Seventh games are a different animal because of the pressure, no matter where the deciders are played. In the NBA Eastern Conference finals, the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat had each won once on their home floor and twice on the opposing court before heading for a seventh game in Miami.

Even though home teams win about 70 percent of Games 7, more important – at least in this series – was what doomed the Hurricanes. The Celtics jumped out to a 16-point lead in the first half and hung on to win 100-96 to reach their first NBA Finals since 2010 against Western Conference champion Golden State.

Getting the lead early, particularly in Game 7, puts enormous pressure on the other team to fight back and hang in there. The Canes felt that early by giving up a power play goal to the Rangers and that deficit grew steadily as the capacity and once-raucous PNC crowd sat in near shock.

The Hurricanes scored first in each of their three home victories, just as the Rangers did in their three wins at home. In Game 7, Carolina had five power plays and only scored on the fifth.

Great teams with NBA or Stanley Cup champion aspirations must find a way to win at least once on the road to avoid the pressure-packed seventh game, wherever it is played. By already winning twice on Miami’s home court, the Celtics knew they could do it again. So they are moving on, while the Canes are not.


Featured image via Associated Press/Karl B. DeBlaker does not charge subscription fees, and you can directly support our efforts in local journalism here. Want more of what you see on Chapelboro? Let us bring free local news and community information to you by signing up for our biweekly newsletter.