RALEIGH, N.C. — Curtis McElhinney likely will be the starting goalie for the Carolina Hurricanes against the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final at PNC Arena on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).
“Will he play again tomorrow? Probably,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said Wednesday. “There’s a pretty good chance he’ll be the goaltender, but you never know. We are going to need him to play good like that because again, they get their chances.”
Brind’Amour did not address the situation Thursday morning.
[RELATED: Full Bruins vs. Hurricanes series coverage]
The Hurricanes trail the best-of-7 series 3-0 and need to win to keep the series and their season alive.
McElhinney made 29 saves in a 2-1 loss in Game 3 on Tuesday in his first start since the second round, when he replaced an injured Petr Mrazek during the second period of Game 2 against the New York Islanders. He made 17 saves on 17 shots to allow Carolina to rally for a 2-1 victory before winning Games 3 and 4 in the sweep of the Islanders, each by a 5-2 score.
He was replaced by Mrazek, deemed healthy after missing 11 days with a lower-body injury, at the start of the conference final. But Mrazek struggled in the first two games, allowing 10 goals on 52 shots (.808 save percentage), and McElhinney got the call to start Game 3.
McElhinney, who was claimed off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 2, settled the Hurricanes down with his calm demeanor and his conservative style. Despite allowing two goals — one on a tap-in by forward Chris Wagner at 1:21 of the second period and one on the power play by forward Brad Marchand 5:07 later — he was sharp throughout and gave Carolina an opportunity to compete.
“That’s how he plays. He’s been very good for us and obviously he was very good again last night,” Brind’Amour said.
In four games in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, McElhinney is 3-1 with a 1.70 goals-against average and .943 save percentage. Mrazek is 5-5 with a 2.73 GAA, a .894 save percentage and two shutouts in 11 games.
Hurricanes defenseman Calvin de Haan said each goalie brings unique traits to the crease and Carolina is comfortable with whoever starts Game 4.
“It’s not a blame game,” de Haan said. “They are different styles of goalies. They have been really good for us this year and they definitely helped us get us into a playoff spot and into a good position. [Can] only say good things about them.”
If McElhinney starts in Game 4, he said he will relish the opportunity to try to win and extend the series, perhaps starting a journey from 3-0 down in a best-of-7 series that has been completed by four teams in NHL history.
“We are in the situation we’re in and it’s just about coming out on Thursday and getting those two points for that game and moving forward,” McElhinney said Tuesday.
Forward Jordan Martinook, who missed Game 3 because of a lower-body injury, could return for Game 4, Brind’Amour said Thursday. When asked if there would be any other lineup changes, the coach said, “I doubt it.”