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Cullen, LaRose Call Their Shot

Friday, 01.30.2009 / 1:42 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Cullen, LaRose Call Their Shot
Paul Maurice audio

The Hurricanes finally got their first shorthanded goal of the season in last night’s win over Tampa Bay, and it was no accident.
Paul Branecky
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“Matt [Cullen] said that before the game – let’s get a short-hander tonight,” Chad LaRose recalled. “I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

It was fitting then that Cullen set up LaRose for the second-period goal that tied the score at 1-1. Prior to that tally, the Canes were the only team in the NHL yet to score while down a man.

Even prior the goal, which clearly swung the momentum in Carolina’s direction, the penalty kill was creating chances in a way it hadn’t done all season. The team had three shorthanded shots on goal in the first period, which likely rivals their total from the first 49 games of the season.

According to coach Paul Maurice, the offensive chances stem from a dramatic improvement on the defensive side. The Hurricanes have only allowed one power play goal in their last five games – the best stretch of the season for a unit still ranked 23rd in the league.

“We’ve started to generate some things shorthanded, and I think that just comes from confidence,” said Maurice. “They’re not as afraid to make a play now when they’re short because they’ve had some success with it. When a penalty kill is struggling, the first thing you’re always screaming is to just get it down and just kill the penalty.”

If the Canes can consistently present themselves as a legitimate threat to create chances shorthanded, they should continue to have a much easier time keeping the opposition off the board while in the box.

“There’s no question,” said Maurice. “It makes [the opposition] respect your forwards a little bit, and when there’s a turnover and your forwards get it, they’re not just casually waiting for you to dump it down. They have to hold the line, and it changes the amount of time they have in their in-zone pressure.” 

Practice round-up:
  • Maurice shifted his right wingers around at practice. Tuomo Ruutu was back with Eric Staal and Sergei Samsonov, while Justin Williams moved to Matt Cullen’s line with Ray Whitney.

    That change was actually made in the second period of last night’s game, even though Maurice said going in that he intended to keep those groupings consistent.

    “Willy blocked a shot in the first period on the power play, and I think that didn’t help him any out on the ice. I just felt at that point that that line was going to be the difference for us, so we just put Ruutu back there. I think you’re going to see some movement on those two lines over the course of games just on how guys are going.”

    He was right about the revised combinations being the difference – they scored the winner in the dying minutes.
     
  • Niclas Wallin practiced in a non-contact jersey, while Dennis Seidenberg and Scott Walker remained out.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 54 40 10 4 178 124 84
2 FLA 56 32 18 6 153 132 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 BOS 55 30 19 6 163 150 66
5 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
6 NJD 57 29 21 7 125 124 65
7 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
8 NYI 54 29 19 6 153 137 64
9 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
10 CAR 56 25 21 10 137 146 60
11 PHI 54 24 20 10 128 140 58
12 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
13 OTT 57 25 26 6 159 177 56
14 BUF 57 23 28 6 135 156 52
15 CBJ 57 23 28 6 144 175 52
16 TOR 54 20 25 9 127 151 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 54 15 19 -13 34
V. Rask 54 14 19 2 33
J. Staal 56 12 21 8 33
J. Skinner 56 19 13 -1 32
K. Versteeg 55 11 21 1 32
E. Staal 56 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 56 8 17 -9 25
A. Nestrasil 49 9 12 1 21
J. Nordstrom 45 5 11 2 16
R. Hainsey 56 3 11 -11 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 16 11 7 .909 2.35
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74