Devils vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

From Tough Loss to Tough Game

Monday, 03.2.2009 / 2:34 PM ET / 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 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 CBJ 74 35 35 4 203 230 74
13 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 68 20 27 -13 47
J. Faulk 73 14 32 -18 46
E. Lindholm 72 16 20 -21 36
J. Skinner 68 18 12 -22 30
V. Rask 71 11 19 -12 30
R. Nash 67 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 69 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 73 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 45 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 37 4 15 -9 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 19 21 5 .910 2.43
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62