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Stepping up in San Jose

Friday, 02.6.2009 / 11:02 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Stepping up in San Jose
As disappointing as Tuesday’s loss in Vancouver was, last night’s huge shootout win in San Jose makes up for that in a big way.
Paul Branecky
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Coming into the game, San Jose had only been beaten four times at home all season. Four times! Getting points in the Shark Tank hasn’t been an easy thing to do this year, and for the Canes to accomplish that with big players out of the lineup and Cam Ward on the bench, not to mention having to rebound from the ugly way their last game ended – that’s impressive. I think we all would have been happy to come out of there with one point, making two a home run.

Credit goes to a lot of individuals for stepping up in this one, including Michael Leighton. I’m not sure you’ll find a tougher goaltending assignment than going into San Jose for your first game action in almost a month. With 37 saves and two more in the shootout, he certainly made the most of it. As good as Ward has been, it’s a big help to know that Ward can get a break here and there down the stretch and the team will be in solid hands.

Coming back from a goal down in the third period was made all the more remarkable by the fact that they did it without Eric Staal, who left the game with a lower body injury. From everything I’ve heard I think that he’ll be OK for Saturday – given the man’s track record with injuries and the need to keep winning games, he’d have to be seriously hurting not to be. Today’s scheduled practice in San Jose has been cancelled, but we’ll try to have an update on his status sometime this afternoon.

Continuing with the trend of stepping up, Matt Cullen played like a first-line center with Staal and Rod Brind’Amour out, setting up Ray Whitney with that great pass to tie the game. Cullen has an extra gear that he hits for long stretches every now and then, and with seven points in his last four games, that’s where he is right now.

A shoutout also goes to Jakub Petruzalek, who earned his first NHL point on his assist to Sergei Samsonov in the second period. Like fellow rookie Bryan Rodney, who earned his first NHL point in Vancouver, he didn’t look intimidated on his big-league debut, and was noticeable on several different occasions.

With every game being so important, I think these last few games have had a little something extra to them. Every goal is a little more uplifting, every goal against a little more disappointing. Should be a fun ride for the next two months.

Saturday’s game is a Cool Bars night over at the Carolina Ale House in Cary. If the Canes can come away with two more from that one, they would have four out of six on this road trip, which should be considered a big success.

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
5 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
11 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
12 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 54 15 19 -13 34
J. Skinner 55 19 12 -3 31
V. Rask 53 12 19 0 31
J. Staal 55 12 19 7 31
K. Versteeg 54 10 21 1 31
E. Staal 55 9 21 1 30
E. Lindholm 55 8 16 -9 24
A. Nestrasil 48 8 12 0 20
J. Nordstrom 44 5 10 2 15
R. Hainsey 55 3 11 -12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 7 .909 2.34
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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