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Blues vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

From Tough Loss to Tough Game

Monday, 03.02.2009 / 2:34 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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From Tough Loss to Tough Game
Audio: Paul Maurice | Cam Ward

As far as tough losses go, the Canes have had a few doozies this season.

Paul Branecky
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Saturday’s come-from-ahead loss to Atlanta, who scored four goals in the third period to erase a 3-1 deficit, ranks right up there. Other notables are the Vancouver game in which Alex Burrows scored shorthanded in the final minute to deny the Canes a point, as well when Alexander Semin netted two in the last few minutes in Washington back in November.

However, given the magnified importance of every game at the moment, Saturday’s contest may sting the most.

”That will be as tough of one as I think this group has faced,” said Hurricanes Coach Paul Maurice. “It’s not the loss most times, it’s how you lose the game, and to be in control at that point in the game – that should have been a done deal for us.”

The Canes had some success after those first two defeats, winning against Ottawa and San Jose in the following days. This time, following an up-tempo Monday practice, they visit a very strong Washington team who is coming off of a big loss of their own – a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Florida Panthers, which did the Canes no favors in the standings.

As Atlanta’s surge in the third period of a (for them) meaningless game against the Canes and Washington’s slump against Florida show, weird things happen this time of year with teams at opposite ends of the standings.

“That’s the National Hockey League,” said Maurice. “The teams at the very top end, you can’t count on them dominating because they’re just waiting for the second season to start. The teams at the bottom end have already mourned the death of their season, and now they’re back playing for fun and there’s absolutely no defensive pressure. 

“When Atlanta is down 3-1, they don’t care if it’s 7-1. They’re going to go out and see if they can wind ‘er up, and they did.”

Tuesday’s game in Washington will be the Canes’ first trip to D.C. since the aforementioned loss on November 6. It will only be the fourth meeting of the season between the divisional rivals, and first since the Canes posted a 3-1 win on December 7, Maurice’s third game as coach this season. The Canes face Washington three times in March.

Of concern for the Canes, besides the obvious threat of Semin, a famous Canes-killer, and Alexander Ovechkin, a famous everyone-killer, is Washington’s power play. The Capitals have nine man-advantage goals in their last five games at a conversion rate of 36 percent.

Other than a weak effort on Rich Peverly’s game-winner against the Thrashers, the Canes penalty kill has arguably been their best area in the last month or so, with only two power play goals allowed in their last five games. Look for that, along with goaltending (a vulnerable area for Washington lately), to be a major key to the game.

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NYI 47 32 14 1 155 130 65
2 DET 48 28 11 9 144 123 65
3 TBL 49 30 15 4 158 131 64
4 MTL 46 30 13 3 126 108 63
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 NYR 45 27 14 4 135 110 58
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 45 20 15 10 111 127 50
10 TOR 49 22 23 4 143 152 48
11 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
12 PHI 49 20 22 7 134 149 47
13 CBJ 46 21 22 3 117 145 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 48 14 31 3 90 171 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 42 16 14 -6 30
J. Faulk 47 9 19 -13 28
E. Lindholm 47 9 11 -11 20
J. Tlusty 40 12 7 -11 19
J. Skinner 42 10 9 -7 19
R. Nash 47 7 12 -4 19
N. Gerbe 43 5 13 -3 18
V. Rask 47 6 9 -10 15
A. Sekera 45 1 14 -6 15
C. Terry 34 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 6 8 2 .918 2.30
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45