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Canes Aim to Start How They Finished

Thursday, 03.10.2011 / 12:51 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Canes Aim to Start How They Finished
Mostly pleased with how his team finished its 3-2 overtime loss to Atlanta on Wednesday, Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice will retain the adjustments that helped them get to that point.

After a slow start that saw the Canes trail 2-0 and not get enough pucks or traffic to opposing goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, Maurice made a change in his top two scoring lines heading into the third period. The switch of right wingers Erik Cole and Tuomo Ruutu separated Cole and Eric Staal for the first time in months.

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“I just didn’t think that the puck was following them or that they were in sync with the puck, and when we made the switch the lines were good,” said Maurice of the mindset behind the change.

The new groupings weren’t directly responsible for the tying goal – in a strange twist, it was two recently-separated players in Cory Stillman and Cole who hooked up for the equalizer as their line changes overlapped – but Maurice said that he liked what he saw enough to start Friday’s game in Washington the way he finished against Atlanta.

“Staal’s line got a little more offensive zone time and it puts a different threat on another line that they have to be careful with,” he said. “I like the way we finished with that, so we’ll probably start there.”

Although disappointed to lose in overtime and gain just the single point in the standings, Maurice said that he had no regrets over how the final play developed. In the four-on-four situation, Finnish Hurricanes Jussi Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu and Joni Pitkanen broke into the offensive zone together, leaving Jay Harrison alone to face the two-on-one counter attack by Atlanta after Pavelec stopped Jokinen’s would-be winner.

“Juice is a 30-goal guy and we want him taking the shot and we want to take our chances off those,” said Maurice. “You can hold your third guy back a little bit and sit back, but if the puck comes back to him and it’s on his stick and in the net, it’s the right thing. I think in overtime you go as aggressive as you can.”

It’s been an uncharacteristically long time sine the Hurricanes have faced Washington, a Southeast Division rival, with the last meeting coming on Dec. 26. The Capitals won that match-up, as they have all four meetings in the season series, though the last three match-ups have been one goal games. One of those, the Nov. 28 contest in D.C., was decided in a shootout.

While the last meeting came when the Capitals were just recovering from one of their most sluggish stretches of the year, one that was chronicled in HBO’s “24/7” documentary, they’ve now won six straight games, including Wednesday’s 5-0 triumph over Edmonton, heading into Friday’s match-up.

“They’ve had a real interesting year,” said Maurice. “They look like they’ve bought in to playing a hard, defensive game. They’re playing well and they’re playing tough. They’ve got clearly the offensive guns that we always talk about, but I think their defensive game has really improved.”

Following that game, the Canes return home to face Columbus for the second half of back-to-back games. The Blue Jackets host Los Angeles on Friday, meaning that neither team will have a rest advantage.

“It’s all fair,” said Maurice.

As Thursday was the lone off day in the current three-games-in-four-days stretch, Maurice opted to hold an optional skate at the RBC Center featuring just five players.


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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
K. Versteeg 63 11 22 -6 33
E. Staal 63 10 23 -3 33
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81