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Wild 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 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYI 65 41 21 3 207 182 85
3 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
11 OTT 61 27 23 11 173 166 65
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 62 12 28 -18 40
E. Staal 57 18 20 -12 38
E. Lindholm 61 11 16 -18 27
J. Skinner 57 16 10 -17 26
N. Gerbe 58 7 16 -10 23
R. Nash 59 7 15 -10 22
V. Rask 60 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 62 6 13 3 19
J. Staal 26 4 12 -4 16
A. Nestrasil 34 4 11 4 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 20 4 .911 2.43
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .905 2.61