Tracking the Storm

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.”


 

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72