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First Goal Could go a Long Way

Tuesday, 04.21.2009 / 10:01 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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First Goal Could go a Long Way
If the Hurricanes failed to score the first goal of the game in the regular season, it wasn’t the end of the world. However, getting on the board first against New Jersey couldn’t hurt.

Paul Branecky
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Although they have a win under their belts, the Canes have technically had a lead for zero seconds in their first round series, as Tim Gleason’s sudden death overtime tally in Game 2 is the only time the Canes have been ahead of the Devils on the score sheet. New Jersey has scored first period goals in all three games to hand Carolina a trio of early deficits.

Given their long-held tendency to fight back when things aren’t going their way, Carolina actually posted a record of 20-20-3 when conceding the first goal during the regular season. That may not seem too impressive, but it tied them with Calgary for the most wins in the NHL when trailing first and made them one of only five teams with a record of .500 or better in that situation.

However, New Jersey is no ordinary opponent. The Devils, notorious for their ability to protect leads, posted a regular-season mark of 36-5-2 when netting the first goal.

“That concept is more to their liking, no question,” said Hurricanes Coach Paul Maurice. “They’re strong defensively, but at the same time we’ve climbed back from a number of games to get it tied and won one [in this series]. We’d love to give it a try, but we have to be prepared in these games. I think our record having not scored the first goal would be among the league’s best.”

“It’s always nice to get the first goal and it would be great to get it, but we’ve just got to go shift by shift,” said Tuomo Ruutu. “There’s nothing else we can do.”

The Devils’ defense has been stifling all series, as the Canes have managed just five goals and are nearly six shots under their regular season average of 32.6 per game, even with a pair of overtime games skewing the equation. If the Devils were to find themselves trailing and in need of a goal, the Canes might have an easier time getting more of their own chances in transition.

“There really isn’t much of a change we can make in terms of opening their team up,” said Maurice. “Maybe getting the lead would help.”

The Canes looked like they may strike first by carrying the early play in Game 3, but New Jersey’s Zach Parise scored one of his trademark tip-in goals before Carolina could force one past Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur.

With another strong start expected in an extremely important home game, the Canes are hoping to have better luck in tonight's Game 4.

“You want to get off to that lead, but we’re still battling back and we’re right in the fight the whole game,” said Eric Staal. “We’ll be ready to play.”


 

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 49 36 9 4 161 110 76
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
4 NYR 51 28 18 5 146 132 61
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 NYI 49 26 17 6 134 121 58
7 DET 51 25 18 8 125 130 58
8 NJD 52 26 20 6 117 118 58
9 PIT 50 25 18 7 129 128 57
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 49 23 18 8 117 128 54
12 MTL 52 24 24 4 137 141 52
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 53 15 19 -13 34
V. Rask 51 12 19 1 31
K. Versteeg 52 10 21 1 31
J. Skinner 53 18 12 -3 30
J. Staal 53 12 18 7 30
E. Staal 53 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 53 8 16 -8 24
A. Nestrasil 46 7 12 -1 19
J. Nordstrom 42 5 9 2 14
R. Hainsey 53 3 11 -12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 5 .905 2.43
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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